New Caledonia, a French territory since 1853, will remain a French territory:
Voters in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia have rejected a bid for independence.
Final results showed that 56.4% chose to remain part of France while 43.6% voted to leave — a tighter result than some polls had predicted.
Turnout was about 81%. The vote was promised by a 1988 deal that put an end to a violent campaign for independence.
President Emmanuel Macron said it showed “confidence in the French republic.”
About that “violent campaign”:
The centre-right government elected in France in March 1986 began eroding the arrangements established under the Socialists, redistributing lands mostly without consideration of native land claims, resulting in over two thirds going to Europeans and less than a third to the Kanaks. By the end of 1987 roadblocks, gun battles, and the destruction of property culminated in the Ouvéa cave hostage taking, a dramatic hostage crisis on the eve of the presidential elections in France. Pro-independence militants on Ouvéa killed four gendarmes and took 27 hostage. The military response resulted in nineteen Kanak deaths and another three deaths in custody.
The Matignon Agreements, signed on 26 June 1988, ensured a decade of stability.
Subsequent agreements led to the scheduling of an independence vote.
A Yes vote would have made New Caledonia the first French territory to break away since Djibouti (1977) and Vanuatu (1980).
About 270,000 people live in New Caledonia.