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Montevideo, June 13th 2024 - 01:09 UTC



Macron in New Caledonia for a political solution to the killings and rioting

Thursday, May 23rd 2024 - 10:00 UTC
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Remains of arson vehicles, empty streets and intense police patrolling in Noumea Remains of arson vehicles, empty streets and intense police patrolling in Noumea

French President Emmanuel Macron is currently in the Overseas Territory of New Caledonia where he flew urgently for a political solution to ending street killings, riots and arson after a recent change in voting rights infuriated the indigenous population of Kanaks, many groups of whom are seeking independence.

Violence exploded on May 13 when France's Assembly in Paris debated changes to the French Constitution that would open up New Caledonia's voter lists. The proposal would extend voting rights to people who have lived in New Caledonia for at least 10 years, and who are seen as less likely to favor independence.

The Kanaks seek independence for the territory of 270,000 people, and see the changes as part of an effort to dash that dream. They fear electoral reform will benefit pro-France politicians and damage the separatist cause in any future independence referendum. Kanaks are estimated to be 120,000.

The unrest is the worst in some 40 years and comes after decades of tensions between the Kanaks and descendants of colonists and other people who have settled in New Caledonia and want to stay part of France. At least six people have died so far, including two gendarmes, plus a trail of torched cars and looted shops, and damages estimated in millions of Euros.

President Macron anticipated that French police forces will remain for “as long as necessary” in New Caledonia. He added that the 3,000-strong force deployed from France would stay put - even during the Paris Summer Olympics if required.

The New Caledonia High Commission on Wednesday said some 1,050 reinforcements from the gendarmerie, police, and civil security had been deployed with more than 90 of the roadblocks dismantled. /R

Under the 1998 Nouméa Accord, France agreed to give the territory more political autonomy and to limit voting in provincial and assembly elections to those who were residents then. But more More than 40,000 French nationals have moved to New Caledonia since.

Categories: Politics, International.

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