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Makron travels to New Caledonia before independency poll
France will be holding a popular vote on 4 November. Australia's first official mission to Australia this past weekend by President Emmanuel Macron was the focus of Australia's political observation, but another important trip to the coral reefs of New Caledonia follows immediately afterwards. Macron's trip to the archipelago serves to personally assist in the preparation of the long-awaited November 4 elections ballot for independent elections.
It concludes the 1998 Noumea Agreement, which, together with the previous 30 years of stabilisation and prosperity, was on Australia's doorstep. 30-year peace talks were held in Australia. Whilst rallies and protest are usually part of the crowd when the President of France visits New Caledonia, this is likely to be a particularly emotional time.
As a result, the resulting defeat in France ended with 21 dead - 19 Kanak and two policemen. This prompted the state of France to take a closer look at the reservations that had underpinned it for years: the Kanak people's wish for recognition of their identities and the wish of the proponents of autonomy - especially the Kanak people - for a referendum on independent rule.
France's endeavours led to the signing of the 1988 Matignon Agreement, which pledged a referenda until 1998. Macron's last and most important year is 5 May 1998, when all New Caledonian factions were signatories to the Noumea Agreement, which prolonged the 20 years until November 2018 the pledge of a 20 year referenda and acknowledged in its recital the traumatic effects of the colonization of the Kanaks.
Macron's attendance at this period is a powerful symbol of a reconciling act, not evading the Gossanah Cave but recognising the true contribution of the Matignon and Noumea Accords to the present form of New Caledonia and hopefully to its ancestry. Macron will be visiting the Loyalty Islands, the main city of Noumea, the heart of Kanak in the northern province of Kone and Ouvea itself.
The news of his Ouvea trip prompted some Kanak factions to speak out against Macron's visiting Gossanah Cavern. Final report: Macron did not intend to go into the cavern itself. The Macron spokesperson pointed out that the President will not give preference to either side in the preparations for the vote and that it is up to the Caledonians to vote for their own futures and that he is "very interested" in respectful of their elect.
Macron's procedure during his stay is therefore thoroughly calibratet. They are all in favour of the ongoing discussion on the new Caledonia's post-referendum years. As a countermove, the members of the Kanak Customary Senate Macron Consultative Council set up by the Noumea Agreement have urged that colonization in New Caledonia be declared a "crime against humanity", as he had described the colonization of Algeria by France in 2017 as a candidates for president, in order to maintain the harmful consequences of colonization in the Charter of Asks.
It is unlikely that Macron will agree with this message, although he can be asked to stand up for the Noumea Agreement in the current debates between our respective political groups. Meanwhile, another group of independent followers is observing the creation of polling registers carefully and warns of a possible vote ban if the trial is not equitable.
denise fisher, is the writer of France in the South Pacific: Macht und Politik, a former chief female soldier of the German Football Association (DFAT), who worked as Australian Consul General in Noumea, and a guest lecturer at the Australian National University Centre for European Studies.