New Caledonia votes to remain French colony after Black Lives Matter pushed them into vote against ‘evils’ of empire

The South Pacific island voted to remain a French territory rather than seek independence after a unanimous vote in the capital Nouméa.

The Black Lives Matter movement – which had involved burning cities and pulling down centuries old statues – put pressure on ‘colonial’ governments to let provinces have a vote.

However, New Caledonia rejected independence yesterday with the majority asking to stay with France, which has been a territory of the European nation since 1853 after Napoleon ordered it.

Citizens of the archipelago voted to remain French with 53.26% of votes and an 85% turnout.

However, Black Lives Matter leaders had ‘helped to push the narrative’ as this year they sought to fight governance and imperialism in territories far and wide.

Belgian protesters set fire to a King Leopold II statue in Antwerp, while one in Ghent was covered in red paint and in the UK statues were defaced and even dragged into harbours.

Left-wing clashed with the right, with the police in the middle.

There were calls to the United Nations to  bring down ‘imperialism’ and ‘colonialism’

Sierra Leone Vice President Mohamed, Juldeh Jalloh, vowed if “we are to remain true to the fundamental principles of the United Nations that is fit for purpose, then it becomes absolutely necessary to relegate the chapter of colonialism to history within the period 2021-2030.”

UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed also said colonial rule was a ‘grave injustice.’

However, in a poke in the eye to the BLM movement which has pushed hard for the end of rule, New Caledonia not only voted ‘no’ to independence yesterday but also back in 2018 and will probably do so in 2022.

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed the result as a “sign of confidence in the republic”, adding he also felt “humility” in view of the results.

The referendum was part of a series of votes agreed two decades ago, following bouts of violence in the 1980s over the issue of independence between the islands’ indigenous Kanak people and descendants of European settlers.

Kanaks represent around 40% of the population, while Europeans, mostly born in the territory, make up about a third. Others come from other Pacific islands or are of mixed heritage.

Several agreements were signed including the 1998 Noumea Accord, which set out a roadmap for greater autonomy for the territory.

Under this agreement, New Caledonia is allowed up to three referendums on independence. A third referendum can take place by 2022, if requested by a third of the local assembly.

New Caledonia has large deposits of nickel, a vital component in manufacturing electronics, and is seen by France as a strategic political and economic asset in the region.

It enjoys a large degree of autonomy but depends heavily on France for matters like defence and education and still receives large subsidies from Paris.


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