Protests against electoral reform: France declares state of emergency in New Caledonia

After violent protests against electoral law reform in New Caledonia France A state of emergency was declared in the South Pacific. According to French government spokeswoman Prisca Thévenot, the state of emergency will apply for at least twelve days. The government reacts to “scenes of chaos”. By declaring a state of emergency, authorities are given extensive powers to control unrest. This includes ordering people deemed to be a threat to public order in New Caledonia under house arrest. Officials have also announced a temporary shutdown of video app TikTok.

Despite a curfew and a ban on gatherings, unrest in and around the capital Noumea has continued since Monday. Riots broke out again on Thursday night. Local media published photos and videos of looted and completely destroyed supermarkets and gas stations.

Since the beginning of the week, pro-independence supporters have repeatedly set fire to shops and cars. La Tontoura Airport is closed. At least four deaths were reported by local authorities, including a member of the emergency services. More than 300 people were injured and more than 130 were arrested. The High Commission in New Caledonia reported that around 5,000 rioters took part in the unrest in large parts of the capital, Noumea.

According to Interior Minister Gerald Dorman, 1,800 police and gendarmes were on duty on Wednesday. Also, 500 emergency services were dispatched from France. Violence of any kind is unacceptable and will result in an impossible response to restore order in the Republican Party. Supporters and opponents of independence issued a joint statement on Wednesday.

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Emmanuel Macron called another crisis meeting

French President Emmanuel Macron postponed a planned visit to the nuclear reactor in Flamanville on Thursday. He called another emergency meeting on Thursday morning. He called for the resumption of political dialogue and wanted the Caledonian delegation to arrive soon Paris received, the Paris government announced. According to his own words, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal wants to suggest that the parties concerned meet him and Minister of Interior and Foreign Affairs Tarman in Paris to find a political solution.

The protests were sparked by the passage of an electoral law reform in Paris that allowed French residents of New Caledonia to participate in provincial elections for more than ten years. Many tribals living in foreign territory consider this a reduction of their interests. Until now, residents had the right to vote only if they had lived in the foreign territory for 25 years.

Supporters of independence from France, which colonized the archipelago in the mid-19th century, fear the influence of the original population could diminish. About 300,000 people live abroad. “This decision will severely limit our ability to govern New Caledonia,” said Louis Mapue, leader of the local government and pro-independence party.

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