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New Caledonia ruling coalition collapses

Four months after an independence referendum in the French overseas territory of New Caledonia, the government of the South Pacific island finds itself in political crisis.

Five pro-independence politicians in the 11-member executive resigned, sparking the collapse of the ruling coalition on Tuesday, local media reported.

“I am very worried about the future of New Caledonia,” President Thierry Santa told broadcaster La Premiere Nouvelle Caledonie.

The archipelago in the South Pacific is under the territorial sovereignty of France, about 18,000 kilometres away.

In a referendum in October, the majority of residents voted against independence for the second time.

A majority had also voted in favour of remaining a part of France in 2018.

The results were particularly disappointing for the Kanak people – New Caledonia’s indigenous population.

Many of them have long been hoping for their own country.

The chief reason for the current government crisis is the controversial sale of a nickel factory, local media reported, with disputes over who should now have ownership.

The archipelago is rich in mineral resources and has huge nickel deposits.

It has been inhabited for about 3000 years.

It was colonised by the French in 1853 and the territory now formulates its own laws, including for taxation and labour.

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