It has been 38 years since a French territory became independent and the Republic of Vanuatu was founded in the South Pacific. This weekend it almost happened again, this time in neighboring New Caledonia.
The citizens of this archipelago, 1,207 km east of Australia, responded to the polls on November 4 to answer the question: "Do you want New Caledonia to become fully sovereign and independent?
The Independence Team lost, but with a narrow lead, as predicted in some polls. The results showed that 56.4% of the voters supported the remaining part of France and 43.6% supported the resignation. About 81
For the time being, overseas France, including its territories, remains intact off the coasts of North and South America, the Indian Ocean, and Antartica. 19659005] A troubled history
New Caledonia is valuable for France for economic and political reasons. The former penal colony (until the end of the 19th century) is "an asset to the French," explains the BBC. The area claims 25% of the world's nickel supply, a metal used in electronics manufacturing
Kanaks, a native, account for nearly 40% of the population. In the 1980s, several independent Kanaks launched a campaign to free themselves from France. This conflict eventually led to the deaths of 19 Kanaks and four French soldiers in a shocking hostage-taking of French policemen. Shaken by the bloodshed, the warring factions concluded a peace agreement in 1988, promising a renewed revision of the matter in 20 years.
Although some Kanaks are said to support France, the indigenous group suffered under French control. They are forced to "live off of reserves in remote areas, pay certain taxes, and do compulsory labor for very low wages," reports AP News. Some places were forbidden for the Kanaks who also had to comply with the curfew.
In 1946, New Caledonia gained autonomy, though Paris supported its economy with annual subsidies of € 1.3 billion ($ 1.5 billion). Ethnically, Europeans make up nearly 30% of the population, and their attachment to France remains strong.
During a visit to the territory last spring, French President Emmanuel Macron said his country was less beautiful without New Caledonia. "
After today's vote, he fainted:" I have to tell you how proud I am that we've finally made this historic move together. "