French president pledges 'constitutional review' for overseas department New Caledonia

French president pledges 'constitutional review' for overseas department New Caledonia

'New Caledonia is French because they chose to stay so,' Macron says regarding 3 independence referendums held in Indo-Pacific archipelago

By Nur Asena Erturk

ANKARA (AA) – French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday pledged a "constitutional review" for the country's overseas department New Caledonia.

"I want a review of the Constitution in early 2024," Macron said in a speech in Noumea. "This will be a revision of the Constitution dedicated to New Caledonia (…) since New Caledonia will remain a separate collectivity in our Constitution."

Macron also commented on the three referendums held in New Caledonia, the latest in 2021, for independence.

"New Caledonia is French because they chose to stay so," the president further said.

The president also deplored the absence of pro-independence groups in informal discussions on Wednesday morning.

The Kanak community, which represents 44% of the population, boycotted the referendum in 2021.

Macron announced the deployment of 200 additional soldiers on the island, as well as an investment of 18 billion Pacific Franks (approximately $166,300) and the creation of a military academy.

France occupied New Caledonia in 1853 and the archipelago remained a French colony until 1946 when it became an overseas department. The local people, Kanaks were given the French nationality.

A separatist group was formed decades later to fight for the Kanaks' rights and independence.

The Noumea Agreement signed in 1998 under the aegis of France's then-Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, planned a gradual decolonization process in 20 years.

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

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