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New Caledonia votes on changing into impartial from France

By: AP |

October 4, 2020 10:18:32 pm

A girl factors to a voting pocket book earlier than voting in Noumea, New Caledonia, Sunday, Oct.4, 2020. Voters in New Caledonia, a French archipelago within the South Pacific, had been deciding Sunday whether or not they need independence from France in a referendum that marks a milestone in a three-decade decolonization effort. If voters select independence, a transition interval will instantly open in order that the archipelago can prepare for its future standing. Otherwise, New Caledonia will stay a French territory. (AP Photo/Mathurin Derel)

Voters in New Caledonia turned out in massive numbers on Sunday to resolve whether or not the archipelago within the South Pacific ought to get independence from France and break ties that had been first established within the mid-19th century.

Sunday’s independence referendum is a part of a three-decade decolonization effort geared toward settling tensions on the archipelago between native Kanaks looking for independence and residents prepared to stay in France.

More than 180,000 voters had been invited to reply the query: “Do you want New Caledonia to gain full sovereignty and become independent?” “Today is not a day like any other. Everyone woke up with the will to express oneself (through the vote). This is a historic day,” Robert Wayaridri, 60, advised The Associated Press.

In Noumea, the capital, massive strains of individuals waited to vote below the recent solar, typically for hours. Almost 80% of voters had already casted their ballots one hour earlier than ballot stations closed, in line with the French ministry of the Overseas.

Across the archipelago, horns and cheers might be heard all day within the streets, and a few individuals waved pro-independence flags in a relaxed environment.

The FLNKS motion main the independence marketing campaign referred to as on its supporters to remain “calm and respectful.” Polling stations closed at 6 pm (9 am in mainland France). Results are anticipated later Sunday.

If voters select independence, a transition interval will instantly start in order that the archipelago can prepare for its future standing. Otherwise, New Caledonia will stay a French territory.

Corine Florentin, who was born in Noumea 52 years in the past, stated she voted in opposition to independence as a result of she needs to “remain French”. “We can live together, all races together, and design our common future,” she stated.

A scholar on the University of New Caledonia, Guillaume Paul, 18, additionally voted “no” as a result of he needs the archipelago to maintain its ties with France.

“What would the country become if it was independent? There is a real danger that without the financing brought by France, the university would disappear,” he stated.

But Joachim Neimbo, 22, was in favour of independence.

“I voted yes, because that’s my people’s combat. We want the recognition of our identity, our culture. I think we are able to manage ourselves,” he stated.

Taguy Wayenece, 25, additionally voted “yes” to independence.

“We need to return to tradition, to working in the fields, to stay with the tribe. Modern life is too complicated for us,” he stated.

Two years in the past, 56.4% of voters who participated in an identical referendum selected to maintain the area’s ties with Paris.

Both referendums are the ultimate steps of a course of that began 30 years in the past after years of violence that pitched pro-independence Kanak activists in opposition to these prepared to stay in France.

The archipelago now counts 270,000 inhabitants, together with each native Kanaks, who as soon as suffered from strict segregation insurance policies and widespread discrimination, and descendants of European colonisers.

New Caledonia grew to become French in 1853 below Emperor Napoleon III “Napoleon’s nephew and heir” and was used for many years as a jail colony. It grew to become an abroad territory after World War II, with French citizenship granted to all Kanaks in 1957.

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