The Guardian

Violent unrest leads to state of emergency in New Caledonia

- Angelique Chrisafis Paris Additional reporting Associated Press and Agence France-Presse

France announced a state of emergency in New Caledonia yesterday for at least 12 days after a second night of unrest over changes to voting rights in the overseas territory that has resulted in the deaths of at least four people.

A government spokespers­on, Prisca Thevenot, revealed the decision after a cabinet meeting yesterday afternoon in Paris, saying it would aim to calm tensions after the “scenes of chaos”.

The emergency measures will give authoritie­s greater powers to tackle the unrest, including the possibilit­y of house detention for people deemed a threat to public order.

“The priority is to restore order, calm, serenity,” Thevenot said.

Later the French prime minister, Gabriel Attal, told a ministeria­l meeting that troops had been deployed to secure ports and the internatio­nal airport, and the government representa­tive in New Caledonia had “banned TikTok”.

More than 130 people have been arrested and “several dozen rioters” taken into custody amid the unrest, according to the French high commission. Since Monday, more than 300 people have been injured, it has said.

Rioting began this week before politician­s in Paris voted on a bill to allow French residents who have lived in New Caledonia for 10 years the right to vote in provincial elections. Some fear this would dilute the share of the vote held by Kanaks, the Indigenous group that makes up about 41% of the population and the major force in the Pacific archipelag­o’s proindepen­dence movement.

Three of the people who died were young Kanaks, a spokespers­on for New Caledonia’s president, Louis Mapou, said yesterday. The fourth fatality was a gendarme.

All local political parties in the overseas territory have called for “calm and reason” as a curfew was extended into today. In the capital, Nouméa, and in the commune of Païta there were reports of several exchanges of fire between civil defence groups and rioters. One person had been found shot dead in an industrial zone.

 ?? ?? Fire damage in the New Caledonia capital after continuing unrest
Fire damage in the New Caledonia capital after continuing unrest

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