New Caledonia vote to stay part of French Republic

Voters in France’s South Pacific territory of New Caledonia rejected independence from Paris in a referendum yesterday.

Final results saw 56.4 per cent of voters choosing to remain part of France compared to 43.6 per cent for independence.

The poll had a record-high participation rate of 80.6 per cent of registered voters — so many that some polling stations in the capital Noumea had to stay open about an hour longer than planned to handle the crush.

A majority of native Kanaks, now just 40 per cent of the population, are believed to have backed independence, while most descendants of European settlers favoured keeping the French connection.

French President Emmanuel Macron promised full dialogue on the future, declaring: “I’m asking everyone to turn toward the future to build tomorrow’s New Caledonia. The spirit of dialogue is the sole winner.”

Praising both sides for their “responsible” campaigns, Mr Macron claimed that “contempt and violence” were the only losers.

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