Independence vote

New Caledonian plan approved for independence vote

This follows a political agreement reached between the rival pro- and anti-independence sides in Paris at the start of November, defining the restricted roll for the plebiscite.

Voters will have to be either indigenous Kanaks, French residents since 1994 or if they were born in New Caledonia have to have lived there for three years while having their material and moral interests there.

An overwhelming Congress majority approved the deal which will add another 11,000 names to the roll, bringing its total to 158,000.

UN committee rejects West Papua independence petition

The petition, presented by the independence leader Benny Wenda on Tuesday, asked the UN to appoint a special representative to investigate abuses and to put West Papua back on the decolonisation agenda.

But the UN decolonisation committee says the West Papua cause is outside its mandate, which extends only to the 17 states identified by the UN as "non-self governing territories."

The committee's chair and Venezuela's representative to the UN, Rafael Ramírez, says he had received no formal petition document, and his office had been "manipulated" for political purposes.