Caribbean Departments Decline Autonomy From France

Jan. 10, 2010, midnight

Voters in two French overseas departments (DOMs) last Sunday independently turned down increased local control of social services. According to election officials, 80 percent in Martinique and 70 percent in French Guyana opposed a measure to amend the part of the French Constitution that governs their relationship to France. Opponents cited different reasons for voting 'no,' including uncertainty over the nature of the new powers and distrust of local governments. French President Nicolas SARKOZY said the results indicated voters' "attachment" to the mainland. Leaders in Guadeloupe decided not to hold a similar vote, arguing it might reignite tensions that led to a violent, six-week strike last winter.

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