PARIS — France's Pacific island territory of New Caledonia will hold a second referendum on independence next year, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Friday.
Voters in a November 2018 poll chose to remain part of France by 57 per cent to 43 per cent, a result hailed by President Emmanuel Macron as "historic".
The date for next year's poll will be decided over the coming fortnight, but will be either August 30 or September 6, Phillipe said.
French since 1853, New Caledonia is a remote island territory in the southwestern Pacific and has around 270,000 inhabitants.
It is located about 18,000km from mainland France – some 2,000km east of Australia.
The bulk of New Caledonia's population is made up of indigenous Melanesians known locally as Kanaks (39 per cent) and European inhabitants, or Caldoches (27 per cent).
There are also minorities from the relatively nearby Polynesia Pacific region, and a growing part of the population identifies as mixed-race or "Caledonian".
Violent clashes between Kanaks and Caldoches in the 1980s were ended by a French-brokered reconciliation, attempting to rebalance wealth and share out political power.
A landmark 1988 deal between France and opponents and supporters of independence, gave the islands more autonomy. — AFP