The Pacific Islands Forum Ministerial Committee to New Caledonia observed the 2021 New Caledonia referendum on independence held on 12 December 2021.
It deployed to the Northern and Southern Provinces and observed the referendum opening, polling, closing, and the count.
“The Committee was pleased with the overall arrangements made for polling day and congratulates the people and Government of New Caledonia, the French High Commission, the Referendum Control Commission and all stakeholders involved.
“The Committee observed polling day to be peaceful, orderly and well organised. The Committee thanks polling officials and supervisory Commission delegates for the warm reception extended to the Committee as it carried out its work.
“However, the Ministerial Committee noted the low voter turnout where only 43.87 percent of the 184,364 registered voters exercised their right to vote. Of those that voted, 96.5 percent voted ‘No’ and 3.5 percent voted ‘Yes’.
“A significant proportion of registered voters, mainly Kanak and pro-independence supporters chose to refrain from voting in support of their non-participation stance made known before the referendum, which should be taken into the contextual consideration and analysis of the result. The spirit in which the referendum was conducted weighs heavily on the Noumea Accord and New Caledonia’s self-determination process. Civic participation is an integral component of any democracy and critical to the interpretation and implications of Sunday’s poll,” the statement said.
A full report will be prepared capturing the Ministerial Committee’s observations and findings.