Oct. 4 (UPI) — Voters in the Pacific territory of New Caledonia rejected a bid for independence from France Sunday in a second referendum on the issue.
Results shared by New Caledonia’s High Commission showed that 53.26% of voters chose to reject independence from France while 46.74% voted in favor of independence amid high turnout at 85.64%.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday said he “felt humility” following the referendum adding that he welcomed the result.
“The Caledonians have confirmed their wish to keep New Caledonia in France. It is a mark of confidence in the republic,” Macron wrote on Twitter. “I also hear the voices of those who are motivated by the desire for independence. We will all together build the New Caledonia of tomorrow.”
Sunday’s vote was part of the 1998 Noumea Accord, which promised to grant power to New Caledonia and its Indigenous Kanak population.
Voters also rejected independence during the first referendum in 2018, with 56.4 electing to remain part of France. Kanaks also boycotted an earlier referendum in 1987, citing unfair terms for voter eligibility.
Another referendum can be held in 2022 and French Prime Minister Jean Castex on Sunday said the French government would support efforts toward independence.
Castex said the government said the French government sends “a message of deep respect” to those who voted for independence, assuring the government “will remain true to its word: in accordance with the Noumea agreement it will respect the choice of elected Caledonians to request, or not, a third referendum.”