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France Seeks To Calm Rioters In New Caledonia As Lawmakers Approve Controversial Voting Change

Riots, New Caledonia

Riots raged on in New Caledonia’s capital Noumea on Wednesday as French lawmakers approved changes to voting rules in the Pacific Island.

French lawmakers 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.”

French retailer Decathlon said its New Caledonia store was vandalised, looted and burnt in the protests.

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President Macron has condemned the violence and called for calm. This message was sent through a letter to officials in New Caledonia who then posted it on social media.

FLNKS have also condemned the violence and called for protestors to lift roadblocks.