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New Caledonians Reject Independence Bid From France

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New Caledonians Reject Independence Bid From France
With a high turnout at Sunday's vote, just over 56 percent of voters decided to stay with France.
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Voters in the French South Pacific territory of New Caledonia have rejected a bid for independence. 

With a  record-high turnout at Sunday's vote, just over 56 percent of voters decided to stay with France. French President Emmanuel Macron said he's proud of Caledonians for choosing to "stay French." 

France has ruled New Caledonia since the mid-19th century. It oversees defense, law enforcement and education, but the archipelago still maintains a good amount of autonomy. 

The referendum stems from clashes between island natives and French forces for independence in the 1980s, which left more than 70 people dead. Pro- and anti-independence representatives signed an agreement in 1988 to end that violence with the promise that New Caledonia could hold an independence vote some time in the future. 

Though Sunday's vote rejected independence, the island territory can hold two more independence votes before 2022.