Despite New Caledonia voters’ decision to remain part of France during Sunday’s vote, pro-independence proponents say the tight results of the referendum indicate that the territory's independence is “inevitable soon.”
According to the provisional results released by the French government, 78,361 people voted No in the historic referendum, while 60,573 cast their ballot for Yes — a margin of 56.4 per cent to 43.6 per cent. Two more referenda are slated for 2020 and 2022.
Leading New Caledonian pro-independence politician Victor Tutugoro said governments of Melanesian countries have quietly supported the independence movement but this had been muted in part because of their bilateral links with France.
"The government of Fiji has been very discreet but generally speaking it's been the organization. With governments it's a different story, they have to be more reserved towards France given their bilateral relation," RNZ quoted Tutugoro as saying.
Tutugoro said he was yet to speak to delegates of the Pacific Islands Forum, who visited Noumea for the weekend's independence referendum. RNZ reported that the forum defied France in the 1980s by facilitating New Caledonia's re-inscription on the UN decolonization list.
New Caledonia has been part of France since 1853.