Home Europe France Declares State Of Emergency As Four Killed In New Caledonia Riots

France Declares State Of Emergency As Four Killed In New Caledonia Riots

A road is barricaded by rioters as they protest against plans to allow more people to take part in local elections in the French-ruled territory, which indigenous Kanak protesters reject, in Noumea, New Caledonia, May 15, 2024, in this picture obtained from social media. Lilou Garrido Navarro Kherachi/via REUTERS

France has declared a state of emergency in New Caledonia.

Riots in the island have killed three indigenous Kanak and one police official.

The state of emergency came into force at 5 am local time (1800 GMT). Authorities can now ban gatherings and forbid people from moving around.

Police are adding 500 officers to the 1,800 present on the island. This comes as protesters set fire to vehicles and shops.

Schools have been shut and there is already a curfew in the capital Noumea.

French authorities have also banned TikTok. They say it has helped amplify the protests.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said “no violence will be tolerated. He added the state of emergency “will allow us to roll out massive means to restore order.”

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French lawmakers had voted 351 to 153 in favour of a bill allowing French residents to vote in New Caledonia. However, they will need to have spent 10 years on the island.

Local leaders voice fears that the bill will dilute the indigenous Kanak vote.

The French government says the changes are necessary to ensure democracy on the island. However, President Macron has said he will be willing to facilitate dialogue.

The dialogue will be between the country’s pro and anti-independence camps. It has to take place before a special congress turns the bill into law.

Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS) said it would accept Macron’s offer of dialogue. The pro-independence group said it wants an agreement “that would allow New Caledonia to follow its path toward emancipation.”