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Tensions rise in New Caledonia as it mulls a break with France

Bougainville and Guam are also moving toward referendums on constitutional status

New Caledonia's Ouaieme River opens into the bay of the same name.   © Getty Images

AUCKLAND Due east of Australia, the Pacific island 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, islanders will vote on the issue of independence.

The wording of the referendum question to be asked has not been determined, and neither has the eligible electorate. Tensions have been building, prompting Paris to dispatch 50 additional security officers to the territory. They arrived in February, but attacks on police have continued, wounding three and drawing condemnation from authorities.

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