Following riots… Macron heads to New Caledonia this evening

French government spokeswoman Prisca Thévenot announced that President Emmanuel Macron will travel this evening, Tuesday, to New Caledonia, a French territory located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, after unprecedented riots over the past few days that resulted in the deaths of six people and the injury of hundreds.

Thévenot said that Macron announced during the Council of Ministers this morning that he would go “this evening” to New Caledonia, stressing that the president will leave out of a spirit of responsibility towards this French territory.

Yesterday evening, Monday, Macron chaired a new meeting of the National Defense and Security Council at the Elysee Palace, to follow up on the latest developments in the situation in New Caledonia and to find a solution to the security and political crisis taking place in the archipelago, about a week after riots broke out against the backdrop of constitutional amendments and resulted in the deaths of six people.

The French presidency stated that during the meeting, Macron noted “clear progress in restoring order,” praised the work carried out by the security forces and asked the government to continue to be vigilant and committed.

The Defense Council also decided to deploy additional reinforcements to protect public buildings and also replace internal security personnel in the region with military forces for some time, according to the French presidency.

This was the third meeting held by Macron, as last Wednesday he chaired a meeting of the National Defense and Security Council during which he decided to declare a state of emergency in the region. Then the second meeting was held on Thursday and at its conclusion, French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal announced the sending of police and gendarmerie reinforcements to the region.

On Sunday, France began a “major security operation” in New Caledonia, with the participation of hundreds of gendarmes, to secure a main road linking the capital, Noumea, to its international airport. The High Commissioner of the French Republic in New Caledonia, Louis Le Fran, indicated the “success” of the beginning of this large-scale security operation by the Gendarmerie forces to remove barriers blocking the road between Noumea and the international airport. However, the independence supporters, most of whom are indigenous Kanaks, confirmed that they would not surrender, and they had already returned. Setting up some barriers that were removed by security forces.

The situation remains tense in New Caledonia, where the closure of the international airport has been extended while there are still barriers installed on main roads despite the massive security reinforcements provided by the state to restore order.

It is worth noting that the recent riots broke out in New Caledonia, which has a population of 270,000 people, after the adoption of a constitutional reform aimed at expanding the number of people allowed to participate in local elections to include all those born in Caledonia and residing there for at least ten years, which is what Independence advocates fear it will dilute the voices of the indigenous people known as the Kanak people.

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