New Caledonian referendum result rejected – not wish of ‘silent majority’

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#StolenReferendum in New Caledonia
#StolenReferendum ... a defiant Kanak banner supporting independence for Kanaky New Caledonia from France. Image: FLNKS

RNZ Pacific

New Caledonia’s pro-independence umbrella organisation says it does not recognise the legitimacy and validity of the third and final referendum on independence from France.

The statement by the organisation grouping seven parties and unions — the Strategic Independence Committee of Non-Particioation (CSIMP) — is the first since 96.5 percent of voters rejected independence from France on Sunday.

Sunday’s vote was boycotted because of France’s refusal to postpone it until next year to consider the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on the Kanak population.

The statement said the referendum was not in the spirit of the 1998 Noumea Accord and the United Nations resolutions on the territory’s decolonisation.

It said the path of dialogue had been broken by the stubbornness of the French government, which was unable to reconcile its geostrategic interests in the Pacific with its obligation to decolonise New Caledonia.

The statement said President Emmanuel Macron’s speech to validate the result bestowed no honour on France.

It said the calendar drawn up by Overseas Minister Sebastien Lecornu for post-referendum talks had been turned upside down.

The pro-independence side said the 18-month transition period for a new New Caledonia statute could not begin with a French government at the end of its mandate.

The CSIMP represents the Front de Libération National Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS), Parti Travailliste (PT), Nationalistes du MNSK, Dynamique Unitaire Sud (DUS), Union Syndicale des Travailleurs Kanak et Exploités (USTKE), Confédération Nationale des Travailleurs du Pacifique (CNTP) and the Front de Luttes Sociales (FLS).

MSG doubts referendum’s legitimacy
Melanesian countries said the outcome of New Caledonia’s independence referendum could not be taken as the legitimate wish of the “silent majority”.

Following a call for abstention, only 43 percent of voters went to the polls, with turnout as low as 0.6 percent in some mainly Kanak areas.

The Secretariat of the Melanesian Spearhead Group said it firmly supported a call by New Caledonia’s FLNKS for the United Nations to declare Sunday’s result null and void.

Last week, the secretariat called on MSG member states not to recognise the impending referendum after France refused to postpone it.

Forum calls for consideration of Kanak stance
The Pacific Islands Forum said the non-participation stance of New Caledonia’s pro-independence camp in Sunday’s referendum should be taken into the “contextual consideration” and analysis of the result.

The forum’s Ministerial Committee observed the plebiscite, which was the third and last under the Noumea Accord.

It said it was pleased with the overall arrangements made for polling day, which it said was peaceful, orderly and well organised.

Its statement said the spirit in which the referendum was conducted weighs heavily on the Noumea Accord and New Caledonia’s self-determination process.

It added that civic participation was an integral component of any democracy and critical to the interpretation and implications of Sunday’s poll.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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