After Four Deaths in Riots, a State of Emergency Comes Into Force in New Caledonia - Latest Global News

After Four Deaths in Riots, a State of Emergency Comes Into Force in New Caledonia

According to local authorities, five suspects are under house arrest as they try to restore calm.

France has declared a state of emergency in its Pacific island territory of New Caledonia and deployed police and military reinforcements to end days of unrest over Paris’ decision to change rules for provincial elections.

Three Kanak indigenous people and a police officer were killed in violence that broke out on Monday evening and continued despite a nighttime curfew. Hundreds were injured.

The state of emergency came into force at 5am on Thursday (6pm GMT Wednesday) and gives authorities broad search and arrest powers.

The High Commission representing the French state in New Caledonia said in a statement that five people had been placed under house arrest as “suspected sponsors of the violent unrest” and that further searches would take place “in the coming hours.”

More than 200 “rioters” were arrested, it said.

Authorities are “determined to quickly restore public order and take all necessary measures to protect the population of New Caledonia,” the statement said.

A contingent of troops was traveling from Marseille to help secure New Caledonia’s international airport and its ports, which have been closed since the beginning of the week.

The state of emergency remains in effect for 12 days.

Controversial reform

Anger has been simmering for weeks over plans to change the French constitution to allow people who have lived in New Caledonia for a decade the right to vote in the territory’s provincial elections. This waters down an agreement from 1998 that restricted the right to vote.

Many indigenous Kanak people, who make up about 40 percent of the territory’s nearly 300,000 residents, fear the move will undermine their position in the territory.

The violence came this week as the National Assembly in Paris voted to approve the measure. For the new rules to come into force, a joint session of the National Assembly and the Senate must be convened as it is a constitutional amendment.

New Caledonia, located about 1,500 km (930 miles) east of Australia, was colonized by France in the 19th century.

Nouméa residents watch an activist at a barricade opposite the entrance to Tuband in Nouméa’s motor pool district [Delphine Mayeur/AFP]

The last serious outbreak of unrest in the 1980s led to the 1998 agreement, the so-called Noumea Accord, which promised greater autonomy and three referendums on independence.

In all three countries, most recently in December 2021, voters chose to remain part of France.

Pro-independence parties boycotted the final referendum because it took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a devastating and disproportionate impact on the Kanak community.

There are large differences in wealth between the Kanaks and people of European descent. Since the 1998 agreement, around 40,000 people have moved from France to New Caledonia.

Sharing Is Caring:

Leave a Comment