Long queues formed outside polling stations in Noumea on Sunday morning as New Caledonians voted on whether to become independent or remain part of France. One voter, Jean, described it as «a historic day for New Caledonia» which has been coming «for over 30 years.» Paul said the vote was «crucial» for the Pacific island and represented the culmination of the 1988 Matignon agreement and the... Еще 1998 Noumea agreement, which established the right to self-determination for New Caledonians. «This is a vote that puts our future in danger, so it's the most important vote, and I hope that we will not see it through and that we will stay in France,» said loyalist Frederic. The territory, east of Australia, was first claimed by France in 1853. A political settlement was promised after a violent campaign by separatists belonging to the native Kanak population. According to the latest polls, the majority of the people will vote against breaking away from France. Under the terms of the 1998 deal, in the event of a no vote, the islands have the right to two more referendums before 2022. French President Emmanuel Macron, who has expressed his wish for New Caledonia to remain part of France, is expected to give a televised address following the results at 23:00 local time (12:00 GMT).