French marines and military police dispatched amid unrest in New Caledonia – DW – 2024/05/18

French marines and military police dispatched amid unrest in New Caledonia – DW – 2024/05/18

One person was killed and two others injured on Saturday in the latest round of violence in New Caledonia. The indigenous Kanak people continue to protest against changes to voting laws in the French Pacific region.

This is the sixth death since the violence began earlier this week. .

Rioters set up barricades to protest election reform measures that would allow more people to vote in local elections.Image: Delphine Mayeur/AFP

What do we know about Saturday’s riot?

The incident occurred in the Kaala Gomen region of northern New Caledonia, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported, as reported by General Nicolas Mateos.

French media reported that a man was shot and killed as he tried to climb over a barricade set up by protesters. His son and a Kanak were injured in the incident.

French police have not identified who was involved in the shooting.

Also on Saturday, hundreds of heavily armed French marines and military police were seen patrolling the capital Noumea.

Residents reported hearing gunshots and “massive explosions” throughout the night, according to news agency AFP.

Vaima Muriava, a minister in the territory’s devolved government, told a news conference that New Caledonia was facing logistical problems due to the barricades and was struggling to distribute food and medicine.

French MPs spark riot in New Caledonia

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What caused the riots in New Caledonia?

Violence broke out on Tuesday after French lawmakers passed a new bill allowing French residents who have lived in New Caledonia for at least 10 years to vote in local elections. Independence supporters in the region fear this could dilute the vote of the indigenous Kanak people.

On Wednesday, the French government declared a state of emergency after riots in New Caledonia left four people dead, including a French police officer.

National army soldiers were called in to protect the island’s port and airport, and about 500 additional police officers were sent to support the 1,800 people already in the territory.

An estimated 3,200 tourists are stranded due to the closure of Noumea International Airport.

French authorities accused a separatist group known as CCAT of being behind the riots. Officials said 10 activists were placed under house arrest.

New Caledonia has been under French rule since it was colonized in the late 1800s. The indigenous Kanak people make up approximately 41% of the region’s population.

The region voted to remain under French rule in referendums in 2018, 2020, and 2021, but most secessionists boycotted it.

sdi/dj (AFP, Reuters, Associated Press)

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