French President Macron pledges to keep police in New Caledonia amid riots

French President Emmanuel Macron has promised to keep French police forces in New Caledonia as long as necessary, in the midst of ongoing riots in the French Pacific territory. The unrest in New Caledonia was sparked by a controversial electoral reform that reportedly led to six fatalities and hundreds of injuries. The proposal to allow more French residents to vote in local elections has provoked outrage among indigenous Kanaks, who fear a dilution of their political influence in the archipelago.

The tensions between Paris and pro-independence Kanaks in New Caledonia have a long-standing history, with the group constituting around 40% of the population. President Macron, during his visit to Nouméa, emphasized the need for peace, calm, and security to be restored swiftly in the region.

While addressing local leaders, including separatist representatives, Macron acknowledged the delicate nature of the political discussions surrounding the future of New Caledonia. The recent violence has led to the arrest of 269 individuals and the declaration of a state of emergency.

Despite hinting at a possible lifting of the emergency status, Macron recognizes the challenges ahead in finding long-term solutions to the unrest. The proposition to grant voting rights to long-term French residents living in New Caledonia faces constitutional obstacles, given the provisions of the 1998 Nouméa Accord aimed at enhancing political autonomy.

As France navigates the complex dynamics within New Caledonia, the international community will be closely monitoring the developments in the region. The resolution of the current crisis and the achievement of a sustainable political framework will be crucial for fostering stability and harmony among the diverse population of the territory.