OVER 100,000 ELIGIBLE TO VOTE IN NEW CALEDONIA REFERENDUM

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NOUMEA, New Caledonia (March 4, 1998 - Radio Australia)---More than 100,000 New Caledonians will be eligible to vote in a referendum later this year to determine the French Pacific territory's future political status.

However, more than 8,800 additional persons, representing nearly eight percent of the total electorate, are not able to take part in the referendum.

The President of the electoral list commission, Francois Cachelot, says this is because they are unable to prove 10 years of continuous residency in New Caledonia since 1988, one of the conditions for the referendum.

They can, however, take part in all other elections.

This year's planned referendum on self-determination is one of the provisions of the 1988 Matignon Accords between Paris, separatists and the anti-independence movement.

The Accords established a 10-year period during which social and economic stability was to be established before New Caledonians decided on their constitutional future.

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