The Council of State rejects the request to annul the results of the 3rd referendum

The results of New Caledonia’s third self-determination referendum will not be annulled. The Council of State rejected this Friday the request which had been made in particular by the Customary Senate, a territorial institution of New Caledonia which wants to be “the guardian and the defender of the Kanak identity”. This election organized on December 12, 2021 was marked by record abstention after the separatists called to shun it due to the Covid-19 epidemic. The pro-France had won 96.49% of the vote, against 3.51% for the “yes” to independence, but with a participation of only 43.90%.

For the Council of State, after a peak in September, “the epidemiological situation improved continuously in October and November with an incidence rate of 48 per 100,000 at the start of December”, and with a rate of people vaccinated of “77 7%”, “a few days before the election”, authorizing “the extension of the state of emergency” and the holding of the referendum campaign.

“The sincerity of the ballot” was not affected

The fact that the Customary Senate “declared a customary period of mourning” for a “beginning on September 9, 2021”, “was not such as to affect (…) the sincerity of the ballot”, according to the Council of State. Finally, “neither the constitutional provisions, nor the provisions of the statutory organic law (…) subordinate the validity of the referendum control to a minimum participation rate”, adds the supreme administrative judge.

The Council of State had already rejected at the beginning of December 2021 the request of a collective of citizens to postpone the referendum on independence scheduled for December 12, considering that the health context did not “obstruct” the conduct of the ballot. At the end of the last referendum, an 18-month transition period began leading to a project referendum by June 2023.

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