In New Caledonia, a French overseas territory in the Pacific, a new referendum on independence will be held next year. French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has announced that. The referendum will take place on 30 August or 6 September 2020.
The residents of New Caledonia had already gone to the polls on 4 November 2018 to speak out about possible independence. At the time, 56.7 percent of the population chose to remain part of France, which was less than expected.
But the proponents of independence say that they will be able to convince even more people at a subsequent referendum if they get enough time for it. That is why they insisted that the new referendum be held on November 2020. The other camp then argued for the poll to take place in July.
The decision to have the vote take place at the end of August or at the beginning of September came after 15 hours of negotiations between Paris and representatives of both camps. The exact date will be set in the course of the next two weeks.
New Caledonia is located in the Pacific Ocean, east of Australia and north of New Zealand. France annexed the archipelago in 1853. After the Second World War, it became a French overseas territory, which led to more rights for the Kanaken, the original inhabitants.
In the 1980s, the archipelago experienced severe nationalist tensions, which eventually led to the Nouméa agreement in 1998. This provided for greater autonomy and a referendum on self-determination by November 2018. According to that agreement, by 2022 at the latest, a total of three polls on the issue are being organized.