Demonstrators March Against New Caledonia Referendum
PARIS (AP) _ About 2,500 people marched through the streets of Paris on Tuesday to protest an upcoming referendum in New Caledonia and to demand independence for the French Pacific territory.
Demonstrators, marching past City Hall, carried banners reading ″No to the phony referendum, yes to decolonilization.″ They passed out brochures calling for an end to ″the French colonial empire.″
The march was organized by the New Caledonia separatist organization, the Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front.
Kanaks are native Melanesians who make up 43 percent of the population of 150,000 in the Pacific archipelago.
Kanak separatists have vowed to boycott the Sept. 13 referendum on independence, which is virtually certain to favor keeping the island French.
After the vote, the government is to begin a series of negotiations on giving islanders greater autonomy.
Joining the march were human rights and anti-racism organizations, and members of France’s leftist trade unions.