Iin one Referendum New Caledonians decide on Sunday whether they want to continue belonging to France. The Pacific island is of great strategic importance to the government in Paris, not only because of its mineral resources, but also to avoid China’s supremacy. In France, it did not go unnoticed that the Chinese leadership unobtrusively supports the independence movement. That is why President Emmanuel Macron hopes that “No to Independence” will win a majority on Sunday. At his press conference at the Elysee Palace, Thursday evening, he was confident. He explained that “France would be less beautiful without New Caledonia.” But as president, he doesn’t want to take sides, he wants to prepare for “the day ahead.”
On Sunday, voters will be asked: “Do you want New Caledonia to gain full sovereignty and become independent?” It is the third and final referendum in the autonomy process initiated by Socialist Prime Minister Michel Rocard (1988-1991). Macron He stated that he would have to organize all three referendums during his term of office. Voters rejected independence twice. On November 4, 2018, 56.7 percent of voters rejected secession from France, and on October 4, 2020, 53.3 percent of voters confirmed their desire to remain French.
40% of the world’s nickel reserves
From 1853 to 1946, the group of islands northeast of Australia was a French colony. Since then, it has enjoyed wide autonomy and, unlike the French overseas departments and territories, has a special status in the European Union. New Caledonia has important French military bases in the Pacific Ocean.
The archipelago is also the backdrop to the outrage in Paris over the sale of the broken submarine to Australia. France combined the arms trade with the desire to be fully integrated into the strategy of the Western Pacific. In economic terms, the island of 300,000 inhabitants plays an important role due to nickel deposits. Forty percent of the world’s reserves are located in New Caledonia.