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Uncertainties as New Caledonia Prepares for Its Final Independence Referendum
France’s decision to hold the third and final independence referendum in New Caledonia under 1998 Nouméa Accord provisions on 12 December 2021 means that on that day, the Accord expires, along with the certainty and predictability it and previous agreements have provided for 30 years. Answering the question ‘Do you want New Caledonia to accede to full sovereignty and become independent?’ eligible New Caledonians will vote either to become independent, or to negotiate new post-Accord governance provisions, in both cases recasting the territory’s ongoing relationship with France. The results of the first two referendums, with large and growing Indigenous-based minority support for independence, suggest the outcome will be close. Part 1 of this paper reviews recent developments and key issues, as the final independence vote approaches. Part 2 provides an analysis of the regional implications, regardless of the outcome of the referendum.