In brief

New Caledonia’s independence referendum postponed to 4 October

Vote was originally scheduled for 6 September

Kanak and French flags.
Kanak and French flags. Author: George Garrigues
New Caledonia’s independence referendum will be held on 4 October, almost one month later than originally planned. French government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye has justified the postponement due to the health crisis of the new coronavirus.

The New Caledonian Congress had voted overwhelmingly in favour of the date of 25 October. Especially the pro-independence parties had advocated having more weeks to better prepare for the referendum. The pro-independence camp believes that the French government “has not listened” to New Caledonia.

It will be the second independence referendum to be held in this country of Oceania under French sovereignty, after the one held on 4 November 2018. On that occasion, 56.7% of the voters opposed independence.

If independence is again rejected this year, a third referendum may be called in 2022 if a third of New Caledonian Congress members support it.