Eyes turn to the young in New Caledonia self-rule vote

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The French Pacific territory of New Caledonia, which became a French colony in 1853, will hold a referendum next year on the proposition of self-rule. The referendum is the result of 30 years of a political process to ease tensions between pro-independence militants from the indigenous Kanak population, which make up about 45% of the archipelago’s 270,000 inhabitants, and ethnic Europeans. A key issue of the referendum will be the extent of involvement of the young generation, and in particular young Kanaks who are the worst affected by high unemployment and educational failure. Ellen Salvi reports from New Caledonia.

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Amid the preparations for next year’s referendum on the future of New Caledonia, when the population will decide to either remain a French-run territory or opt for self-rule, political representatives from the Pacific archipelago, situated about 1,200 kilometres east of Australia, met in Paris with French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on November 2nd to finalise the organization of the vote.