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New Caledonia voters choose to stay part of France
NOUMEA, New Caledonia (AP) -- A majority of voters in New Caledonia, an archipelago in in the South Pacific, chose to remain part of France instead of backing independence Sunday, in a referendum that marked a milestone moment in a three-decade long decolonization effort.

In a televised address from Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed "an expression of confidence in the Republic with a deep feeling of gratitude ... and modesty."

Macron promised pro-independence supporters "this is with you, all together, that we will build New Caledonia tomorrow."

He praised the "success" of the vote and called on New Caledonia residents to "look to the future."

The overseas ministry said results show 53.3% of the voters who participated in the referendum on Sunday have chosen to maintain ties with France, while 46.7% supported independence.

The vote has been marked by a very high turnout. More than 85% of voters had cast their ballots one hour before poll stations closed, according to the overseas ministry.

As Le Monde reported, the 'yes' [to independence] got a majority in the provinces with a population who's over 70% Kanak - the indigenous Melanesian who were the first inhabitants of what is now New Caledonia: essentially, the northern part of the mainland and the north coast , plus the outer islands, such as Île des Pins and the Loyalty Islands.

Despite being the "First Nation" of New Caledonia (the name comes from James Cook), the Kanak people represent 39% of the total population; Europeans account for 27%, Polynesians (Tahiti, Vanuatu, Wallis & Futuna) about 11% and the rest (about 20%) come from various countries, mostly South-East Asian, like Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos etc...

As mentioned in the previous comment, per the Nouméa Accord, the local elected assembly (Congress of New Caledonia) can ask for a third referendum that could take place in 2022.

by Bernard (bernard) on Sun Oct 4th, 2020 at 02:37:19 PM EST
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