New Caledonia voters reject independence from France


New Caledonia voted against independence from France in a referendum on Sunday, the second set since 2018.

Preliminary results showed the "no" camp narrowly winning with 53.26 percent of the vote, according to the archipelago's high commission.

Sunday's independence vote was part of a three-referendum process under the 1998 Nouméa Accord, which is aimed at settling tensions in New Caledonia between native Kanaks seeking independence and residents willing to remain in France.

At the last such referendum held in November 2018, the result was 56.67 percent against independence and 43.33 percent in favor, with most indigenous Kanaks voting in favor and most non-Kanaks against, including a majority of those descended from French settlers (Caldoches) and from migrants from the nearby French territories of Wallis and Futuna and Tahiti.

New Caledonia originally became a French territory in 1853 and was initially used as a penal colony. The population today is around 270,000, with 39 percent Kanak and 36 percent of European or “metis” (mixed) ancestry.