U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to announce Thursday that the British colony of Borneo will become an independent state.
The British territory, which has a population of about 1 million, is located in Indonesia’s East Timor, where it has been embroiled in a conflict with Indonesia’s ethnic minority of the Timorese.
The country’s leaders have long said they want to end the decades-long ethnic conflict, which saw more than 150,000 ethnic Indonesians killed.
May will also announce that a new British colony will be created on the island of Bali, located in the Bornean archipelago, which also includes parts of Sumatra and Kalimantan.
The new island, called Bali New Guinea, will have an ethnic majority of Bantu ethnic Indonesies, and the British will become a permanent member of the country’s Commonwealth group.
May said she would also introduce an independent tax-collection agency to the islands, which are home to a third of the world’s Bantus.
May also plans to set up a government office in the new island and appoint a senior cabinet minister, a move that will allow the U.S. to join the British-controlled island in its bid to become a sovereign nation.
May, a native of Bountiful, British Columbia, is expected by her critics to make Borneos a key priority of her second-term government, which will be sworn in after the next general election.
Indonesia has not formally recognized the Bali-based British colony, but the island is seen as an important trading hub.
The Borneans have a small but powerful minority of Bants who say they want independence and have resisted an Indonesian takeover.
Indonesia has long denied any involvement in the ethnic conflict and has been reluctant to intervene militarily in the region.
May is also expected to open negotiations with Washington over a potential military aid package, including the purchase of advanced American weapons.