Written by 09:43 World

France’s Macron to Visit New Caledonia After Deadly Protests

President Emmanuel Macron of France is making a surprise trip to New Caledonia, a French territory in the South Pacific that has been gripped by deadly unrest for more than a week, to hold talks with pro-independence leaders.

Six people have died and hundreds have been injured since demonstrations by the Indigenous Kanak people turned violent early last week. The French authorities have sent hundreds of police officers into New Caledonia, enforced a curfew and banned TikTok, but they have struggled to restore calm in the territory.

Some local leaders expressed doubts that Mr. Macron, who is scheduled to arrive on Thursday, could defuse the tensions. “Here comes the fireman after he set the fire!” Jimmy Naouna, a spokesman for FLNKS, an alliance of pro-independence parties, wrote on social media.

Many in the Kanak community have accused Mr. Macron and France of reneging on an agreement that had put New Caledonia on a possible path to independence. The source of contention is an amendment to the French Constitution that would unfreeze voter rolls in New Caledonia — a move that would likely tip a referendum on self-determination in France’s favor. Mr. Macron has refused calls to withdraw the amendment.

His trip will be the first visit to the territory, where about 270,000 people live, by a senior French leader since violence broke out last Monday. Mr. Macron will try to “renew the thread of dialogue” during the visit, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal told the French Parliament on Tuesday.


Last modified: 23 May 2024