Over the weekend, South Pacific island New Caledonia held its third referendum on whether to remain part of France. Results showed 96.49% of votes were against independence, with just 3.51% voting to break away from France. The referendum saw less than 44% of the population participate in the non-compulsory vote.
Pro-independence forces, predominately from the indigenous Kanak population, boycotted the vote after accusing the French Government of trying to rush through the referendum. They tried to argue that it should be postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
New Caledonia’s two previous independence referendums were in 2020 and 2018. The majority of voters in both referendums voted to remain as part of France. French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the result saying: “Tonight France is more beautiful because New Caledonia decided to stay.”
The three referendums are part of a decolonisation process that came from violence in 1988, which led to the Noumea Agreement. The agreement aimed to give New Caledonia further autonomy. The French Government, pro-independence forces and non-separatists will now enter negotiations to decide the status of the territory.