The leader of New Caledonia's anti-independence Rassemblement Pierre Frogier has announced his resignation from the party leadership.
Mr Frogier, who is 68, said Thierry Santa will take over as interim leader until a party congress next year will elect a new president.
He said he will now concentrate his efforts in his role as a member of the French Senate to which he was first elected in 2011.
Mr Frogier succeeded Jacques Lafleur in 2005 as the leader of then dominant anti-independence party, the Rassemblement-UMP.
He has also served as member of the French National Assembly, as president of New Caledonia's government and president of New Caledonia's Congress.
Following last month's referendum victory of the anti-independence side, Mr Frogier has expressed his opposition to more such votes.
The losing camp however has already signalled that it will seek a fresh vote in 2020 as provided for in the Noumea Accord.