New Caledonia

In many ways, this is the most topical of all the independence movements as it’s in fact held a referendum on independence October 4th, 2020. First conquered by France in 1853, in 1945 New Caledonia was placed by the UN on the list of non-self-governing territories; the UN’s list of colonies.

Following the growth of European settlement in the 1960s and 70s, the Melanesian Kanak community, which currently represents about 40 percent of the population, established a pro-independence movement.

This led to violent clashes, including a serious incident in 1988. In 1998, an agreement was reached between the various parties. New Caledonia gained greater autonomy.

At the same time, it was also agreed that the territory would be permitted to hold up to three referendums on independence before 2022. The first of these took place in November 2018.

However, voters rejected statehood by 56.4% to 43.6%, on an 81% turnout. Following on from this, the second of these votes took place on 4 October 2020. 

The archipelago voted to remain French with 53.26% of votes, according to final results reported by AFP news agency. Turnout – at 85.6% – was high. There’s the option for a third vote on the matter, either in 2021 or 2022.

In the event that independence is rejected for a third time, under the terms of the Accord the various parties are expected to consider the situation. This is definitely a case of ‘watch this space’.

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