The 3rd self-determination referendum took place on December 12. Unsurprisingly, due to the call for abstention from the separatists, the NO was very largely imposed with 96.49% of the votes, for a participation rate – 43.87% – much lower than previously (81% in 2018, 85.69% in 2020). While the government welcomes the « desire to remain French », the nationalists consider this election as a hold-up sponsored by France. According to the Noumea agreement, discussions should start on the new status to be given to the Overseas Territory.

The Noumea Accord

Negotiated following the Matignon Accords of 1988, the Nouméa Accord provided for the irreversible transfer of certain powers from France to New Caledonia in many areas with the exception of Defense, Security, Justice and cash. Signed on May 5, 1998 in Nouméa under the aegis of Lionel Jospin, at the time Prime Minister, this agreement had the particularity of being binding on the State, because any backtracking as to the powers transferred would have to take place at the same time. by referendum and constitutional amendment. It also provided for three referendums on the independence of New Caledonia, in the event of a negative vote for the first two. Unlike the previous two, the 2021 referendum was the subject of a boycott by the separatists due to the state’s refusal to postpone the date of its organization.

The reasons for the boycott

On July 8, 2021, the independentist Louis Mapou became head of the collegial government of Kanaky, a first since the Nouméa Accord. Bolstered by a positive dynamic, the separatists nevertheless demanded a postponement of the third referendum, due to a period of prolonged mourning for the Kanak families affected by the Covid-19. The « loyalists », for their part, denounced the use of the pandemic as a pretext to avoid defeat, the Covid having, according to them, highlighted the action of the French government.

And now ?

The 2021 referendum marks the end of the period defined by the Noumea Accord. This period should be followed by a transition allowing a new status to be defined for the archipelago within the French Republic. This text will itself have to be submitted to a referendum in 2023. 

Our partner, ALLINDI SVOD, offers on its platform a two-part documentary by André Waksman, entitled Merci la France. The director studies in parallel the effects of the French policy applied to two territories with a strong identity: la Kanaky … et la Corse ! The common thread of this work was Dumè Gallet. Died in 2013, this former member of Canta u Populu Corsu was one of the very first separatists to be elected to the Corsican Assembly in 1984.


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