The French overseas ministry said on Dec. 2 that the French Pacific island of New Caledonia will hold its third and final referendum on independence on Dec. 12, after rejecting it in the first two.
Reuters reports that French Overseas Minister Sebastien Lecornu said the referendum is part of a long and complex decolonization process and will therefore be held before the spring 2022 presidential elections. Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Lecornu said the referendum would be followed by a two-year transition period to allow Paris to restructure its relations with New Caledonia.
New Caledonia has a large degree of autonomy, but is very dependent on France for issues such as defense and education. Under the 1998 Noumea Accord, New Caledonia can hold up to three referendums on independence by 2022.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex told the French Senate last Thursday that the outcome of the 3rd vote could be ‘very close’ given the results of the first 2 referendums. In the 2018 referendum, 57 percent opposed independence, but in last October’s referendum, the anti-independence rate dropped to 53 percent.