There has been massive turnout at the polling stations in New Caledonia on Sunday, October 4 which is a sign to show the importance of this second referendum intended to decide between France and independence for this strategic archipelago of 270,000 inhabitants in the South Pacific.
According to reports, the turnout was 79.63% on Sunday at 5 p.m. (8 a.m. Sunday, Paris time), six points higher than in 2018 (voting ends at 6 p.m.). That number confirms the trend at midday, where participation stood at 49.40%, or 8 points more when compared to the referendum that was conducted in 2018.
People waited for several hours to be able to slip their ballot box. Germaine Le Demezet, retired, registered in an office in the multi-ethnic district of the Vallée des Colons said, “I waited for 45 minutes. It’s very important for me to vote, I have children and grandchildren here, the future must be clear and we need to know what we are going to become .”
Almost 181,000 voters from this French archipelago, colonized in 1853 and having significant nickel reserves, are called upon to go to one of the 304 polling stations and say if they want “New Caledonia to have access to full sovereignty and become independent.”
It takes 18,000 km to move from this territory to Paris, which stands as one of the last bastions of European sovereignty in the area following Brexit, the first poll on November 4, 2018, saw the pro-French win by 56.7% of voice.
It’s not all the inhabitants of the “Caillou” that can express themselves, the electorate of this important ballot is conditioned by several criteria, like justifying a continuous residence in New Caledonia since at least December 31, 1994, being a native of the archipelago or fall under the customary Kanak civil status.
A Caledonian for “several decades”, Carl Leclerc made his choice for a long time, “This choice is no, it is to stay in France”, assures this 50-year-old manager, because “he there is no answer at the level of the separatists on our future, it is “ we will see, we will see ” ”.
“We can manage our country without any problem,” replies Willi Cejo, 23-year-old Kanak market gardener. But if the no wins again, “we will fight peacefully to the end.” “During the first referendum, we were still happy, because we were” it “to win.”
The result of the ballot will be known on Sunday evening, Sunday morning in metropolitan France. The referendum exercise like the first one is part of a decolonization process started in 1988 by the Matignon accords, signed by the Kanak independentist Jean-Marie Tjibaou and the loyalist Jacques Lafleur, after several years of virtual civil war between Kanaks, first people, and Caldoches, of European origin. These battles led to the taking of hostages and the assault on Ouvéa cave in May 1988 leaving 25 dead.
Should it be that people for no wins, a third referendum is possible by 2022, following the Nouméa agreement, if a third of the members of Congress ‘up to 18 members’ request for it.