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politics

Macron tackles security crisis in French overseas territories as tensions rise – POLITICO

On Tuesday, French lawmakers passed a bill that would allow all citizens residing on the island for more than 10 years to vote in local elections, a move that New Caledonia’s independence movements say would weaken the representation of the indigenous population of the territory. the Kanaks. The change would require a constitutional amendment and must therefore be confirmed by parliamentarians from the Senate and the National Assembly in a joint voting session.

Since 2007, only those who had the right to vote in 1998 – when the French government signed an agreement recognizing the “legitimacy of the Kanak as an indigenous people of New Caledonia” and granting the territory increased autonomy – or their descendants can elect the local executive. .

Calls for appeasement

Tensions are high in Nouméa, the capital of New Caledonia, where airports were closed and a curfew was introduced last night in a failed attempt to prevent riots. Louis Le Franc, France’s representative in the territory, called the limited number of deaths a “miracle.”

Local media reported incidents of looting, arson and the use of firearms.

In a radio interview, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said “around 100” members of the security forces had been injured and that the curfew would be maintained.

In a statement, the main separatist force in the territory and largest party in the local congress, the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front, “denounced” the violent events of Tuesday evening and called for “calm and appeasement”. He once again calls for the electoral reform project to be abandoned and adds that “the unstable social climate…clearly highlights the desire of part of the population to be heard on their future and that of their country (sic) “.

Sonia Backès, a local elected official opposed to the territory’s independence and former minister in the Macron government, called on France to declare a “state of emergency” and accused certain separatists of promoting “anti-white racism”.

Three referendums on the independence of New Caledonia took place between 2018 and 2021. A slim majority of voters chose to stay in France in the first two votes, but the third was marked by low turnout, separatists having called on their supporters to boycott the vote due to the state’s refusal to postpone it in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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