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Vote Fails to Set New Caledonia's Course
[Home Edition]
Los Angeles Times (pre-1997 Fulltext) - Los Angeles, Calif.
Author: Meisler, Stanley
Date: Sep 30, 1985
Start Page: 7
Section: 1; Foreign Desk
Abstract (Document Summary)

Jean-Marie Tjibaou, the former priest who heads the Kanak Front, cited the party's victories as evidence that "independence now appears to be inevitable." But the results showed that the voters in the South Pacific archipelago as a whole rejected independence. Anti-independence parties took almost 61% of the total vote, but much of their strength was concentrated in a single region, the white settler bastion of Noumea, the territorial capital.

In trying to deal with the problems of New Caledonia, a French territory since 1853, the French government must face some difficult population statistics. Of the 145,000 residents, 62,000 or 42.5% are Kanaks, 54,000 or 37.1% are white, and 29,000 or 20.4% are Polynesians, Indians and others. The big question for any government deciding the future of the territory is whether history, which is on the side of the Kanaks, should have more weight than population.

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