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Friday, July 19, 2024

In New Caledonia, Macron – The goal is to return “to peace” and “security”

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Roads across New Caledonia remain blocked today with barricades erected by protesters

French President Emmanuel Macron said police reinforcements would remain in New Caledonia for as long as needed after inspecting areas of the French-ruled Pacific island that have been hit by disasters. from the deadly riots sparked by a controversial electoral reform.

Macron's hastily arranged visit to New Caledonia today, accompanied by the ministers of the Interior, the Armed Forces and the Overseas Territories, comes after six people, including two gendarmes, were killed in the riots, in which 86 police and gendarmes were also injured and which they left behind looted shops and torched cars and businesses after they broke out more than a week ago.

“In the coming hours and days, massive new operations will be planned where necessary and democratic order will be fully restored because there is no another option,” Macron said during a meeting with political and business leaders in the capital Noumea.

Roads across the island remain blocked today with barricadesthat have raised protesters, and residents are taking instructions from social media about which roads are safe to go out in search of food, gasoline and medicine.

Macron had earlier flown by helicopter over damaged areas from the fire, where bulldozers are working to clear the debris. Mayors from the worst-hit suburbs met Macron at the French High Commission, along with local pro-France leaders and others seeking independence.

With the island under a state of emergency , Macron said the additional 3,000 security personnel sent to the island will remain, even during the Paris Olympics, if needed.

“I personally believe that the state of emergency of necessity should not be extended,” he said, adding however that it would only be lifted when the protesters remove the barricades.

Protesters fear the electoral reform, which has already been passed by MPs in mainland France, will dilute the influence of the indigenous Kanaks, who make up 40% of the island's 270,000 inhabitants, in the election, while also making it difficult to hold any future referendum on independence.

The reform requires a meeting of both houses of parliament to be approved. A spokesman for the French government told radio station Europe 1 today that Macron will address the possibility of this meeting being delayed.

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<p class=Snapshot from Emmanuel Macron's visit

Political impasse

Among the indigenous Kanak political leaders who met with Macron were New Caledonia's Prime Minister Louis Mapou and the president of its Territorial Congress, Ross Vamitan, who in 1998 had signed the Noumea Agreement that ended a decade of violence by proposing a path to gradual autonomy.

The deal's expiration in 2021 and a Kanak boycott of an independence referendum held during the pandemic have since created a political stalemate.

Ahead of the meeting, the pro-independence Kanak and Socialist Front for National Liberation (FLNKS) issued a statement saying it expects Macron to make a strong announcement that could “breathe new life” into the dialogue.< /p>

Macron said the aim of the meeting, which was also attended by politicians who favor union with France such as Sonia Backes, was to get all sides to sit around the table.

< p>“The return of calm cannot mean turning back the clock. The return of calm cannot mean that we will defy the popular will that has already been expressed,” Macron said.

Coming out of the meeting with Macron, Georges Naturale, New Caledonia's representative in the French Senate and mayor of Dubois, where shops were set on fire, said society needs to be rebuilt in a different way.

“Supporting young people is something important to us. And then, having this real social plan. Then there is the institutional political plan, but we haven't discussed that yet”.

Macron told the meeting that more security forces were arriving. “We are all convinced that this will not be enough. We also need strong political messages,” said Natural. The message should be to stop and talk calmly, he added.

FLNKS wants Macron to shelve electoral reform, which Paris says is needed to improve democracy on the island. The reform will allow thousands more French people who have lived in New Caledonia for ten years or more to vote.

Macron must also allow more time to negotiate a political deal on the island's future, they have said. local political organizations.

New Caledonia is the world's third largest nickel producer, but the sector is in crisis and one in five residents live below the poverty line.

Macron later met with police at the central police station in Noumea.

“Thank you for being here, thank you very much,” Macron told a uniformed police officer before beginning the closed-door meeting.

Removal of foreign nationals

< p>A flight allowed Australians stranded in New Caledonia to repatriate yesterday, Wednesday. But Canberra has warned its citizens, who remain stranded, that it will not be possible for them to leave today.

In addition, New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters said it was “disappointing” for his countrymen that “no France's approval has been obtained' to fly a flight today to remove them.

The instability was also heightened by the fact that the archipelago became the target of a cyber attack of “unprecedented power” aimed “to cause network saturation of Caledonia”, announced Christopher Ziges, member of the collective government of New Caledonia. The attack was dealt with “before there were significant damages”, he assured.

source: in.gr

Source: 24h.com.cy

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