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French territory rejects independence

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Noumea (New Caledonia), Nov 5 (IANS) Voters in the French Pacific territory here have rejected a bid for independence prompting President Emmanuel Macron to say that it showed "confidence in the French republic".

"I have to tell you how proud I am that we have finally passed this historic step together," Macron added.

Final results showed that 56.4 per cent chose to remain part of France while 43.6 per cent voted to leave — a tighter result than some polls had predicted.

Turnout was about 81 per cent in this island that is one of UN’s 17 "non-self governing territories" where the process of decolonisation has not been completed.

The vote was promised in a 1988 deal that put an end to a violent campaign for independence, the BBC reported.

Although the referendum passed peacefully but some unrest was reported post polls closed. Cars and a shop were set ablaze in the capital, Noumea, media reports said. The high commissioner’s office said some roads were closed by protesters.

New Caledonia has large deposits of nickel, a vital component in manufacturing electronics, and is seen by France as a strategic political and economic asset in the region.