New Caledonia: State of emergency – dead in serious unrest in French overseas territory – News


Indigenous independence supporters are resisting an electoral law reform that would give immigrant French people more say.

At least four people have died in serious unrest in the French overseas territory of New Caledonia. France subsequently declared a state of emergency. President Emmanuel Macron has launched a corresponding decree, the Élysée Palace announced. The state of emergency makes it easier to impose curfews and bans on demonstrations and can give the police and judiciary expanded powers.

Several hundred people were injured in the violent protests by independence supporters, said French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin on RTL. The riots started three days ago.

The acts of violence are not tolerable and the state will take relentless action to restore order, it was said from the Élysée Palace. Macron called for a resumption of political dialogue and wanted to quickly receive the Caledonian delegations in Paris.

Against electoral law reform from Paris

The separatists in New Caledonia are angry about a planned constitutional reform by the government in Paris. It would give thousands of French voters the right to vote in the island state in the South Pacific with a total of around 270,000 inhabitants.

So far, only those people who lived in New Caledonia in 1968 are entitled to vote. Everyone who has lived there for at least ten years should now have the right to vote. The limited right to vote in New Caledonia was introduced in 1998 – at the time a demand of the Kanak people in New Caledonia, as the members of the South Pacific Kanak people are called.

Independence rejected three times

New Caledonia voted on independence from France three times between 2018 and 2021 – and always rejected it. However, the last of the three votes was boycotted by the Kanaks because it took place in the middle of the pandemic and the date violated Kanak customs.

For Paris, New Caledonia’s independence was no longer an issue after the three votes. The overseas territory should now only receive a certain degree of autonomy within the French state.

And because the restricted voting rights in New Caledonia violate the European Convention on Human Rights, the French government wants all residents to be able to have a say in politics in the future.

Buildings burned, airport closed

Numerous buildings and cars in the capital Nouméa went up in flames. The main airport, La Tontouta, schools and public facilities remain closed until further notice. Long queues formed in front of many shops due to fears of food shortages.

Burnt building with smoke and ruins surrounded by trees.


In the capital Nouméa, numerous buildings went up in flames.

Reuters/Lilou Garrido

Interior Minister Darmanin made it clear that one of the people was killed by a bullet, but not by a police officer. The exact circumstances would have to be clarified. There is no information available about the second death.

Police stations attacked with axes

“There should be no violence in a democracy. There must be absolute calm,” demanded Darmanin. He spoke of attacks on police stations with axes and heavy ammunition. According to reports from the broadcaster 1ère Nouvelle-Calédonie, at least 60 police officers were injured. Accordingly, 130 people were arrested.

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