France Declares State of Emergency in New Caledonia: 4 Killed

France Declares State of Emergency in New Caledonia: 4 Killed

Kanako Mita and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Four people have been killed in New Caledonia in the South Pacific after France passed a parliament bill to allow French-born residents certain political rights. The increased political franchise (if it passes the final vote) entails that French citizens – who have resided in New Caledonia for ten years – will now be allowed to vote in local elections.

Voice of America reports, “French President Emmanuel Macron convened an emergency meeting of key ministers in Paris Wednesday to address the situation in New Caledonia. He called for an end to the violence in a letter to the island’s leaders, and offered to hold talks with both pro- and anti-independence factions before the election reform bill comes up for a final vote in a special session of both houses of the French parliament next month.”

Many indigenous Kanak fear that this will weaken their power base. In response, protests broke out in New Caledonia – leaving three young Kanaks dead. One young police officer also died after being shot.

The BBC reports, “The capital Nouméa has been rocked by violent protests for several nights, including reports of exchanges of fire between rioters and civil defence groups.”

Daniel Goa (Pro-independence leader) condemned the pillaging and requested for order to return. However, he also said the discontent “reveals the determination of our young people to no longer let France rule them.”

France declared a State of Emergency to quell the violence in New Caledonia. Accordingly, special powers have been enacted for 12 days.

Reuters reports, “Electoral reform is the latest flashpoint in a decades-long tussle over France’s role in the mineral-rich island, which lies in the southwest Pacific, some 1,500 km (930 miles) east of Australia.”

The armed forces are protecting the port area and two airports.

Gérald Darmanin (French Minister of the Interior and Overseas Territories) said, “Calm must absolutely be restored… There are hundreds of injured in New Caledonia, dozens of houses and businesses that have been burned, set alight.”

Kanaks account for approximately 40% of the population of New Caledonia.

In 1957, all inhabitants of New Caledonia were given French citizenship. However, the weakening of the 1998 Noumea Accord – which will boost the rights of French settlers – is setting off alarm bells within the Kanak community.

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