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Sunday's referendum in New Caledonia is the final of three votes on gaining independence from France. A split was rejected in the first two plebiscites.   © Illustration by Hiroko Oshima
Asia Insight

China looms over New Caledonia vote on independence from France

Most indigenous Kanaks favor a split, but European residents tend to favor status quo

MICHAEL FIELD, Contributing writer | Pacific Islands

AUCKLAND -- Voters in New Caledonia will vote "oui" or "non" for the third and final time Sunday on whether to "accede to full sovereignty and become independent" from France after more than 150 years as a colony.

The odds appear in favor of the mineral-rich archipelago sticking with Paris and rejecting independence. But the credibility of such a result might be questioned if many people heed a boycott call by a pro-independence group, Front de Liberation Nationale Kanake et Socialiste (FLNKS). It asserts the vote should not take place during traditional mourning periods for COVID-19 victims. France has rejected postponing the plebiscite.

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