Voters in the French island territory of New Caledonia chose overwhelmingly to remain part of France, in a referendum boycotted by pro-independence forces and closely watched around the South Pacific.
- New Caledonia is a sui generis collectivity of overseas France in the southwest Pacific Ocean, south of Vanuatu, about 1,210 km east of Australia, and 17,000 km from Metropolitan France.
- The archipelago, part of the Melanesia subregion, includes the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Chesterfield Islands, the Belep archipelago, the Isle of Pines, and a few remote islets.
- The Chesterfield Islands are in the Coral Sea.
- French President Emmanuel Macron hailed the result as a resounding confirmation of France’s role in the Indo-Pacific, and announced negotiations on the territory’s future status. Separatist activists expressed disappointment.
- They had urged a delay in the vote because of the pandemic, and were angry over what they said were French government efforts to sway the campaign.
- So they called on their supporters to stay away from voting stations.