Macron vows to lift emergency measures in New Caledonia: Le Monde News, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Macron vows to lift emergency measures in New Caledonia: Le Monde

President Emanuel Macron of France will lift the state of emergency in New Caledonia on Tuesday, French newspaper Le Monde reported Monday. The state of emergency will lift on Tuesday at 5 a.m., but some curfew measures will remain. 480 mobile gendarmes will also be sent as reinforcements, according to the publication.

New Caledonia, a French territory in the South Pacific located approximately 1,500 km east of Australia, has been under French control since the 1850s. A constitutional amendment proposed by France’s National Assembly last week aims to allow for French residents who have lived in New Caledonia for 10 years to vote in local elections. Currently, the 1998 electoral system restricts voting rights to natives and those who moved to New Caledonia before the 1998 Nouméa Accord, along with their descendants. Pro-independence supporters are contesting this change because they fear it would marginalize the indigenous Kanak people, who have already suffered from discrimination during colonization.

French President Emmanuel Macron declared a state of emergency in New Caledonia on May 19th as some of the protests became violent.  The next few days resulted in almost 200 arrests, dozens of injuries, and at least four deaths since May 17th. Throughout the unrest, President Macron has urged parties to maintain open discourse in New Caledonia, saying “Our youth deserve it”.

Protestors set businesses and cars on fire and shot rifles to cause widespread panic.  Reuters reports that “three young Kanak have died in the riots, and a 22-year-old police official died of a gunshot wound.” New Caledonia’s High Commissioner, Louis le Franc condemned the acts of violence as serious attacks on people and property. He added that security forces have been mobilized to deal with the ongoing acts.

Amid the unrest, the Australian and New Zealand governments have both initiated assisted departures for their nationals in New Caledonia.