November 13, 2018
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PM: New Caledonia referendum result rejects independence from France

Bangkok desk, Nov 4 (efe-epa).- President Emmanuel Macron has said the majority of voters who participated on Sunday in a referendum on independence in the French territory of New Caledonia have chosen to remain as part of France.

The results showed that 56.4 percent rejected independence from France in peaceful and high-turnout voting where separatists did better than some polls had previously suggested.

“There is no path other than that of dialogue,” Macron said in a television appearance, referring to the future of the archipelago in the South Pacific which has been part of France since 1853.

The ballot paper asked the approximately 175,000 eligible electors the question: "Do you want New Caledonia to attain full sovereignty and become independent?"

The referendum culminated a process that began 30 years ago in a bid to defuse violence between supporters and opponents of independence from France.

Opinion polls in the run-up to the vote had indicated the electorate would comfortably reject severing ties with France, which heavily subsidizes the territory.

The 1980s saw a rebellion by some members of the indigenous Kanak community in favor of independence.

In a referendum in 1987 voters rejected independence by a large majority in a poll that some groups boycotted.

New Caledonia has a population of about 278,000 people. The Kanaks form the largest ethnic group at 39 percent of the population, according to the 2014 census.

Europeans make up just over a quarter of the population.

The territory lies roughly 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) east of Australia's east coast.

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