Elections

State of Emergency Declared After Deadly Protests Over Voting Rights Changes

Main image to the post State of Emergency Declared After Deadly Protests Over Voting Rights Changes

France Imposes State of Emergency

France has declared a state of emergency in New Caledonia, a French overseas territory in the Pacific Ocean, following two nights of violent protests over changes to voting rights. The unrest has resulted in the deaths of at least four people, including three young Indigenous Kanaks and a gendarme.

The state of emergency, which will last for at least 12 days, grants authorities greater powers to tackle the unrest, including the possibility of house detention for individuals deemed a threat to public order. This is the first time France has imposed such a measure in New Caledonia since 1985.

The protests erupted after the French parliament voted to allow French residents who have lived in New Caledonia for 10 years the right to vote in provincial elections. This change is opposed by some local leaders who fear it would dilute the voting power of the Kanak people, the Indigenous group that makes up about 41% of the population and is the main force behind the pro-independence movement.

The situation in New Caledonia remains tense, with reports of looting, arson, and exchanges of fire between civil defense groups and rioters. Schools, the airport, and shops remain closed, and a curfew has been extended to Thursday.

French President Emmanuel Macron has delayed the process of rubber-stamping the voting amendment into law and invited representatives of the territory's population to Paris for talks. However, he has stated that a new agreement must be reached by June or he will sign the amendment into law.

The unrest in New Caledonia highlights the ongoing tensions over France's role in the island and the desire of the Kanak people for self-determination. It also underscores the strategic importance of the Pacific region, where China and the US are vying for influence.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09