France Declares State Of Emergency, Sends Troops, To Quell Deadly Riots In Pacific Territory

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, May 16, 2024 - 12:40 AM

French President Emmanuel Macron has declared a 12-day state of emergency starting Wednesday as a result of deadly riots which have gripped France's Indo-Pacific territory of New Caledonia.

Four people died and many others were wounded in clashes with police Tuesday night, with reports of looting and buildings burned to the ground. The mayhem was sparked by a vote in France's parliament, the National Assembly, which authorizes residents who've resided in New Caledonia for 10 years to cast ballots in provincial elections.

Car with flag of the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front, AFP

But the archipelago's indigenous Kanak people have for decades chafed over what they see as a power grab favoring the descendants of colonizers who want to remain part of France. These ethnic tensions have simmered for many years, and have boiled over this week.

The French territory lies east of Australia and is ten time zones ahead of Paris, and it has about 270,000 people. The new state of emergency aims "to restore order in the shortest time possible" - according to a parliament statement.

There are widespread reports that French military troops have been deployed to put down the pro-independence riots, and a ban on TikTok has also reportedly been issued, but Paris officials have sought to downplay these draconian measures.

According to the Associated Press, "Asked if France could deploy the French military to the island, Thevenot said it's not the army's job to maintain order but that it is helping with the transport of police reinforcements."

A montage view of the destruction and fires raging:

However, later the AFP news agency wrote that France has deployed army personnel at New Caledonia ports as well as the main airport.

New Caledonia's president Louis Mapou has said that the deaths from the last 24 hours of unrest included three young indigenous Kanak people and a French gendarmerie police officer who had previously sustained wounds. Hundreds of protesters and police have been injured.

"The moblie gendarme seriously wounded by a bullet in New Caledonia has just died," Darmanin announced. "Our thoughts are with his family, those close to him and his friends. Nothing, absolutely nothing, justifies violence. Order will be restored."

Paris has confirmed an extra 500 French police officers have been sent to the territory to help restore order.

All schools and public buildings in the capital of Noumea have remained shut. Hundreds of buildings have been damaged or have been set on fire.

Fresh reporting in The New York Times demonstrates how seriously France is taking it, with President Macron having canceled an overseas trip:

The French authorities have undertaken what they called a “massive” mobilization of security forces since violent protests broke out in New Caledonia this week over a proposed amendment to the French Constitution that would change local voting rules in the territory. A vote in France’s Parliament approving the amendment on Tuesday ignited riots overnight that left four people dead, including a law enforcement officer.

According to more:

The French government said that more than 1,800 security officers were already in the territory and that 500 reinforcements would arrive in the next 24 hours.

At a crisis meeting, Mr. Attal said that the army was being deployed to secure ports and the airport.

Following a crisis security meeting chaired by Macron on Wednesday, the French president's office issued a statement expressing "strong emotion" of the deaths as a result of the riots.

The statement further said that "All violence is intolerable and will be subject to a relentless response" to ensure that order and peace are restored.