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Tensions rise in New Caledonia ahead of independence vote

Bougainville and Guam also moving toward referendums on constitutional status

Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo, center, attends a village meeting in December during his push for a referendum on revising the island’s political relationship with the U.S. (Courtesy: Guam governor’s office)

AUCKLAND -- Due east of Australia, and far removed from Europe, the Pacific island territory of New Caledonia is mulling a final break from France, ending a relationship lasting more than 150 years. In a referendum that will take place next year, New Caledonia will vote on the issue of independence.

The question that will be asked has not been determined, and neither has the eligible electorate. But tensions have worsened ahead of the vote, prompting former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls to promise in November that more soldiers would be sent to the territory to deal with the violence.

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