TRADITIONAL NEW CALEDONIA CHIEF QUESTIONS COMPATIBILITY BETWEEN IMPORTED,

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CUSTOM LAWS

NOUMÉA, New Caledonia (May 29, 2001 - Oceania Flash/SPC)---Maré Island (Loyalty group, northeast of New Caledonia) charismatic traditional leader Chief Nidoïsh Naisseline this week questioned the compatibility between French imported law and local "custom" regulations, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

The paper said Naisseline had sent an open letter to all signatories of the Nouméa Accord (pro-independence FLNKS, anti-independence RPCR and the French government) underlining the "difficulties" Kanak people face when they want to opt for use of customary law.

As a result of the Nouméa Accord, which was signed in May 1998, an organic law was passed in March 1999, allowing anyone wishing to do so to opt for "custom civil law" instead of common law.

But Naisseline, who is Maré’s Guahma district chief, is concerned that the law only provides five years for people to choose.

"The law was promulgated in March 1999 and we are already in May 2001 and to date, no information has been disseminated to the people concerned."

Naisseline, in the same document, also questions the "custom" nature of recently introduced institutions such as the "Custom Senate," which also stems from the Nouméa Accord.

"If I refer to the dictionary, what is customary is what has been transmitted from one generation to the other. This is the case in our clans, our traditions and our chiefly system. But to give the same term to newly-found politician instruments, like the local Senate, is an abuse of language, or even an attempt to falsify indigenous reality."

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