Mixed reactions to referendum in Kanak community

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There have been mixed opinions from the Kanak community, in New Caledonia, after the third and final referendum returned a 96 percent vote against independence.

While anti-independence parties welcomed the victory, the pro-independence side refuses to recognise the result.

The turnout of potential voters was especially low among the Kanak community because many Kanaks abstained from the voting process.

Aile Tikoure, an activist from the pro-independence Palika Party, said that many Kanaks boycotted the referendum because France refused to postpone it until next year, despite the Covid pandemic.

“No no I haven’t voted instructions were clear from the party I didn’t vote. I don’t consider this as an act of war. The government did not speak to the Kanaks; therefore, that is no respect for our fight.

They still haven’t understood us after 30 years of dialogue that this country would be nothing without us. They want to do this without us. It’s an insult. We feel left out from any political discussion,” he said.

Pro-independence activist Florenda Nirikani said that the boycott was a victory.

“I would say it’s a victory from the performance of our Kanak community and a good performance – the word has been followed at 56 percent”

“Now that victory is over we are at a stage where people are asking what do we do? We are at a stage of questioning. Two days after the referendum there a lot of people that ask me well what do we do now. We were prepared for the 97% that said no. We are here to say we Kanaks are proud that level of absence in the referendum was a good victory.”

Florenda Nirikani does not expect to see violence, as a result of the referendum result. However pro-independence activists have made it clear that there will be no negotiating with the current government.

“No, things have stayed calm and I don’t think we will see violence. However, in the days or the weeks to come there will be some questioning from the activivists.”

“There has been a word of order not to talk to a single French government official so negotiations will not happen between Kanaks and the current French government.

Lecornu is here in New Caledonia, the customary senate has refused to meet with him some customary officials have boycotted meetings. The position expressed is that no Kanak represententatives will meet with the current government,” Nirikani said.

Negotiations between the Kanaks and French State are not expected to resume before next year’s French election.

SOURCE: RNZ PACIFIC/PACNEWS