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New Caledonia votes in independence referendum

FILE PHOTO: French President Macron attends a meeting with representatives of New Caledonia in Paris
FILE PHOTO: Elysee Palace Secretary General Alexis Kohler, French President Emmanuel Macron and French Foreign Minister Sebastien Lecornu meet representatives of New Caledonia at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France June 1, 2021. Bertrand Guay / Pool via REUTERS / File Photo

December 12, 2021

By Colin Packham

CANBERRA (Reuters) – The French territory of New Caledonia voted on Sunday in an independence referendum, its third and final vote on the issue, amid fears of rising violence in the country. Small island in the Pacific Ocean.

The final vote is expected to be tight, following two previous polls, in 2018 and 2020, that narrowed the “No” vote from 57% to 53%.

However, the indigenous Kanak people, who are mainly pro-independence, have called for not participating in the referendum as they are in a period of 12-month mourning following a spike in coronavirus cases in Delta in September.

A journalist in the Pacific, Nic Maclellan, said on Twitter: “Early indications in New Caledonia that the independence movement calls for ‘no participation’ are being noticed.

“While there are many voters queuing at Noumea town hall in the capital, so far very few voters have gone to the Kanak-majority areas of the Loyalty Islands and the Northern Province.”

The French Embassy in New Caledonia said just over 41% of eligible voters cast their ballots by 5pm local time (06:00 GMT). This is much lower than at the same time in the 2020 vote, when nearly 80% of the votes were cast.

Analysts fear a “no” vote would anger independence supporters, triggering instability.

One of five island territories spanning the Indo-Pacific held by France, New Caledonia is at the center of President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to increase influence in the Pacific.

Sunday’s vote was the third covered by a decade-long deal after negotiations over the island’s future began in 1988 and called for a series of referendums. referendum on independence.

Fighting broke out in the 1980s in the nickel-rich territory, 1,200 km (750 mi) east of Australia and 20,000 km (12,000 mi) from France, between independence supporters and those who wanted to stay in France. .

(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

https://www.oann.com/new-caledonia-begins-voting-in-independence-referendum/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-caledonia-begins-voting-in-independence-referendum New Caledonia votes in independence referendum

DUSTIN JONES

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