The continuation of the referendum in New Caledonia divides


“Do you want New Caledonia to gain full sovereignty and become independent?”? “ For the third time, Caledonians will have to decide this question, on December 12, after two negative responses to previous referendums, in 2018 and 2020.

But this time, the Covid-19 was invited into the referendum campaign. To date, the virus has caused 267 deaths since the arrival of the Delta variant on the island on September 6. Considering that the conditions are not met to ensure the smooth running of the campaign and the poll, the main pro-independence coalition in the country, the FLNKS, called for “non-participation” and demanded a postponement in 2022.

For the independence president of Congress, Roch Wamytan, it is impossible to campaign when the Kanaks have had to give up their funeral rites. On the side of the loyalists, on the other hand, the time is no longer for mourning and the improvement of the health situation allows “To campaign while respecting barrier gestures”, assures the president of the Caledonian Republicans, Sonia Backès.

The crisis has highlighted the essential role of France by sending vaccines or the arrival of 300 caregivers from the health reserve, even pleads the loyalist center-right deputy, Philippe Gomès. National solidarity has been in full swing and the separatists know that this show of force is working against them.

In favor of maintaining the date of December 12, “To stop letting a sword of Damocles hover over the Caledonians which only aggravates the country’s economic sluggishness and social tensions”, the deputy denounces an instrumentalisation of the health situation by the FLNKS.

From the start, the date of the referendum has been the subject of heated debate. ” From the outset, we expressed reservations about the date of December 12 proposed by the French government, which reflects internal political motivations. », Indicates Roch Wamytan. He recalls that Édouard Philippe, then Prime Minister, had ruled out a third consultation before August 2022 to avoid any collisions with the presidential election in France.

In a statement released on October 20, the FLNKS is concerned “The aftermath of a consultation which, if contested, will not provide the necessary serenity for the pursuit of consensual discussions on the institutional future of the country”. On a visit in mid-October, the overseas minister Sébastien Lecornu declared that “Only an epidemic out of control” could lead to a postponement of the ballot.

The announcement, this Friday, October 22, of the deployment of 2,000 gendarmes, police and soldiers in New Caledonia to supervise the ballot makes the hypothesis of its continuation more and more plausible.

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