Noumea, October 4: French President Emmanuel Macron hailed the results of New Caledonia referendum, as the early counting of votes showed a likely victory for the "no" camp. As per the votes counted till the latest reports had emerged, 52 percent of the voters have chosen to remain under France's dominion. Europe Won't Compromise with US Over Iran Sanctions, Says Macron.
Out of the 304 polling stations, the counting had been conducted in 226, by the time preliminary reports were out. Pollsters were of the opinion that the trend would largely hold on and grant the loyalists a slim victory over those who were advocating for independence.
New Caledonia, an archipelago located in South Pacific region, was taken over by France nearly 170 years ago. After the Noumea Accord was inked in 1998, New Caledonia was granted autonomy, and the right to hold three referendums to decide whether it should remain with France or declare itself as a sovereign nation.
The question asked in the referendum was: "Do you want New Caledonia to gain its full sovereignty and become independent?" The voter had to opt for yes or no. As per the results declared so far by the French Overseas Ministry, the no camp is headed for a win.
Macron Accepts Results With 'Gratitude'
— AFP news agency (@AFP) October 4, 2020
This was the second referendum conducted in New Caledonia. In 2018, the first plebiscite was held in the region, and 57 percent of the voters had opted to remain with France. They had defeated the pro-independence camp by around 18,000 votes.
Over the past two years, nearly 6,000 new voters have been added. The new generation is considered to be leaning more towards independence, as advocated by the Labour Party of New Caledonia.
The country, with a population of around 273,000, has largely opted to remain with France over the past two decades after signing of the Noumea accord. Apart from maritime security, the French government also incurs an expenditure of nearly $1.5 billion in form of various subsidies and welfare schemes.