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New Caledonia

Battle for New Caledonia continues

France may opt for an increased military presence in New Caledonia and there could be less interest by the Pacific nation towards its commitment to the 2050 Strategy for a Blue Pacific Continent.

In September when the French Assembly sits, discussions will take place on new laws for New Caledonia given that France believes the referendum for independence has been true and fair.

Given the results, the Nouméa Accord allows for the parties involved to meet and decide the way forward for New Caledonia.

All referendums on independence have had majority voting against cutting ties with France. The third referendum held in December last year saw the pro-independence supporters boycott and this resulted in a larger majority of votes by those who want to continue to be associated with France.

Most of the anti-independence supporters are French nationals who have settled in the island nation.

This month will also see France’s minister of interior Gérald Darmanin pay a visit to the island to meet all stakeholders including pro-independence supporters.

International laws allow the Kanaks, the indigenous people of New Caledonia right to self-determination, something recognised by France.

New Caledonia president Louis Mapou meets with Fijian minister for lands Jone Usamate to discuss mining. Picture- Fijian Government

The question on the minds of many is what France will do and what the laws will reflect.

New Caledonia president Louis Mapou is the nation’s first pro-independence leader and he feels that changes in the law would reflect France’s interest in the region.

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China and the United States have increased their presence in the Pacific and the geopolitical tension continues to increase.

France also wants to have a presence in the Pacific and possibly its hands on the bounties the waters of New Caledonia holds.

New Caledonia president Louis Mapou with Fijian PM Voreqe Bainiamara after bilateral talks. Picture – Fijian Government

Mr Mapou feels that future laws could reflect France’s interest rather than what the Pacific really wants and needs to do.

For the 2050 Strategy which is a framework that deals with regional security, for climate change issues and economic development to be successful, Pacific nations are to have a similar focus.

The French interest could counter this and be detrimental for the region.

At the United Nations decolonisation meeting held in May this year, the UN was told that the French Government could easily wipe out Kanaks, their language, culture and identity.

New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna are three Pacific territories which France lays claim to and for now there is no indication if independence is around the corner.

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