New Caledonians vote against independence from France

By Recep Sakar

MELBOURNE (AA) – New Caledonia, an autonomous French island in southwestern Pacific Ocean, rejected independence from France in a referendum on Sunday.

According to unofficial results, 95 percent of the votes were counted and 56.8 percent opt for "No" to independence.

Around 174,000 people were eligible to vote in Sunday’s referendum, while the voter turnout was about 80 percent.

New Caledonia receives €1.3 billion ($1.5 billion) of financial help from France annually and it is represented in French parliament with two deputies and two senators.

As per the agreement with France, the Pacific island has the right to hold another referendum till 2022.

New Caledonia has a population of 275,000 and a territory of 18,576 square kilometers (7,172 square miles).