New Caledonia: one week before the referendum, the campaign is slowing down

Nouméa, capital of New Caledonia (photo illustration).

Gettyimages / Piero Damiani

Text by: RFI Follow

2 min

In just one week, exactly on Sunday 12 December, Caledonians are being called to the polls for the third and final self-determination referendum provided for by the Noumea accord signed in 1998, after two consultations which saw the victory tighter than expected from "no to independence", this last ballot promises to be much more tense, the separatists refusing to participate.

In the archipelago, it is in an uncertain atmosphere that the deadline is being prepared.

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With our correspondent in Nouméa

Charlotte Mannevy

Arranged at the back of the cupboards, the green, yellow, blue and red flags, stamped with the ridge arrow which flamed at each referendum on the roadsides and tribes of Caledonia are absent, one week before the ballot.

Without independence participation

the campaign

is sluggish, for lack of adversaries to debate.

The camp of opponents of independence is struggling to interest Caledonians in the ballot.

A lack of interest reinforced by the health measures linked to the

Covid-19

crisis

.

Gatherings of more than thirty people are prohibited and the curfew set at 11pm ...

Difficult, under these conditions, to organize meetings and other unifying events.

The separatists had asked for the postponement of the vote in particular because of the Covid-19 epidemic which struck the archipelago for the first time in early September and left more than 270 dead.

But the state refused: the High Commissioner of the Republic in New Caledonia finally announced in mid-November that the ballot would be maintained as planned, due to a "

controlled 

"

health situation 

.

A new request for interim relief was urgently lodged with the Council of State on December 3 by a group of 146 citizens to once again request the postponement of the poll. 

► Also to listen:

 P. Dunoyer, Member of Parliament for New Caledonia: "We must restore dialogue between all the partners"

With the victory of the no being achieved, all eyes are on the discussions that will take place the day after the election.

The non-separatists say they are confident.

Their opponents will be around the table, but they assure it, they want to discuss, but only with the State and after the presidential election of spring 2022.

It is therefore with uncertainty that Caledonians approach the deadline, a feeling reinforced by the impressive security system deployed by the State.

Mobile gendarmes and armored vehicles are very visible on the territory, in the bush as in the center of Noumea.

► To read also: 

In New Caledonia, decolonization in danger

The referendum of December 12

In total, 185,004 Caledonian voters will be called for the third and last time to answer the question: "Do you want New Caledonia to gain full sovereignty and become independent?"

".

The two previous elections on November 4, 2018 and October 4, 2020, organized as part of the decolonization process of the

Nouméa Accord

, were won by the pro-France with 56.7% and then 53.3% of the vote.

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