[QODLink]
Americas
Overseas French reject autonomy
French island of Martinique and French Guiana say no to more autonomy from France.
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2010 14:01 GMT
Turnout was 59 per cent in Martinique and 48 per cent in French Guiana [AFP]

Voters in the French Caribbean exclaves of Martinique and French Guiana have rejected a proposal for local government to have more autonomy from France.

The two France overseas departments held referendums on Sunday that would have given them greater say in managing their own affairs.

But preliminary results in Martinique indicate 80 per cent of voters rejected the proposal while in French Guiana 70 per cent were against the change, election officials said.

Turnout was about 59 per cent in Martinique and 48 per cent in French Guiana.

The ballot in each of the two Caribbean departments called for giving local government more administrative freedoms, with Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, to determine the extent of the autonomy.

'Not ready'

Jaqueline Manger, a Martinique resident who voted against the proposal, said she "would like a change, but I don't think we are ready yet".

"I don't trust the people who lead the regional council and the general council,'' she said, referring to the local bodies that govern Martinique.

The votes were held a year after the two enclaves, along with the Indian Ocean island of La Reunion were rocked by strikes and rioting over low wages and high prices.

Sarkozy proposed holding the referendums when he travelled to Martinique in June as part of a drive to mend ties following the strike which degenerated into weeks of rioting at the start of 2009.

Martinique, which has around 400,000 residents, and French Guiana, a vast territory with some 200,000 residents, continue to face social problems including high unemployment and low wages.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
Absenteeism among doctors at government hospitals is rife, prompting innovative efforts to ensure they turn up for work.
Marginalised and jobless, desperate young men in Nairobi slums provide fertile ground for al-Shabab.
The Khmer Rouge tribunal is set to hear genocide charges for targeting ethnic Vietnamese and Cham Muslims.
'I'm dying anyway, one piece at a time' said Steve Fobister, who suffers from disabilities caused by mercury poisoning.
The world's newest professional sport comes from an unlikely source: video games.
join our mailing list