The people of New Caledonia appear to have voted against independence in Sunday’s historic referendum.
Early results indicate more than 60 per cent of voters in the territory have cast their ballot in favour of staying with France.
In a televised address from Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron said a majority of voters chose to remain part of France and he pledged “there is no other path than that of dialogue” on the future of New Caledonia.
Pro-independence leaders still hope they can win future referendums due to be held in 2020 and 2022.
But loyalist politicians argue there is no need for more votes in the wake of this result
Poll reveals ethnic divide
The referendum has exposed social and economic fault lines in New Caledonia, and a clear ethnic divide was on display this morning in the capital, Noumea.
But the atmosphere at voting booths was calm, with voters quietly forming long, orderly queues at polling stations.
They were asked to vote Yes or No to a simple question: “Do you want New Caledonia to accede to full sovereignty and become independent?”
In contrast, many New Caledonians with a European background favour remaining with Paris.
Voters at booths in heavily Kanak parts of Noumea voiced strong support for independence.
Kevin cast his vote for Yes at a school in the suburb of Riviere Salle on Noumea’s northern outskirts.
“When I put my vote in the box, I almost cried because I thought of all the dads, all the mums who really fought hard for this,” he told the ABC.
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