South African comedian Trevor Noah to replace Jon Stewart on Daily Show

NEW YORK - South African comedian Trevor Noah will host iconic United States late-night news satire The Daily Show, whose anchor Jon Stewart announced last month he would step down, the programme said onMonday.

The 31-year-old is relatively unknown in the United States - he has appeared a handful of times as the show's "senior international correspondent" - but has a big following online and in his homeland.

The widely acclaimed Comedy Central programme has been led by Stewart for the past 16 years, and become an influential source of news and views for a younger audience than those tuning into straight news broadcasting.

"No-one can replace Jon Stewart. But together with the amazing team at The Daily Show, we will continue to make this the best damn news show!" Noah tweeted.

In mid-February, Stewart announced he would leave the programme, which relentlessly pokes fun at politicians, current events and mainstream cable news.

The exact date of his departure has not yet been announced.

"Very excited to welcome our next host: @Trevornoah! That's right - another guy in late night from Soweto," Stewart tweeted.

The South African comedian, who grew up in the Johannesburg suburb of Soweto, has became an occasional contributor to the The Daily Show last year.

Noah expressed his incredulity to The New York Times from Dubai, where he is on tour.

"You don't believe it for the first few hours," Noah said. "You need a stiff drink, and then unfortunately you're in a place where you can't really get alcohol."

Born in his country's Apartheid-era to a black, South African mother and white, Swiss father, Noah told the Times that he "didn't live a normal life."

His home country was the topic of his first appearance on The Daily Show in early December, when he played on South African stereotypes and headlines about racism and brutality among US law enforcement agents.

"I never thought I'd be more afraid of police in America than in South Africa. It kind of makes me a little nostalgic for the old days, back home," he said.

Noah made his US television debut in 2012 on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and was the host of his own late-night talk show in South Africa.