Violent Protests Erupt in New Caledonia Following Electoral Law Reform

Protests have been ongoing in the French overseas territory of New Caledonia for several days now, resulting in five deaths and over 200 arrests. The unrest stems from concerns by proponents of New Caledonia’s independence that a recent electoral law reform may diminish the influence of the original population, particularly the Kanak people.

The violence has led to hundreds of destroyed or damaged buildings and around 5,000 rioters involved. Two of the deceased were security forces. A state of emergency was declared by the French government after a local politician described the situation as a civil war in a letter to President Emmanuel Macron. Measures such as temporarily blocking the video app TikTok were implemented to hinder communication among rioters.

The French National Assembly approved a constitutional reform that would grant voting rights to more residents of New Caledonia, leading to protests from those who fear a loss of political influence. The CCAT, a radical splinter group opposing the reform, has been blamed for the violence. French politicians, including Interior Minister Darmanin, have accused Azerbaijan of interfering in the situation through the CCAT and the “Baku Initiative Group.”

President Macron has called for a resumption of political dialogue and plans to meet with Caledonian delegations in an effort to calm the situation. However, concerns about disinformation and interference from external actors like Azerbaijan have added complexity to the conflict. While New Caledonia was previously considered pacified, this recent violence has rekindled long-standing tensions in France’s overseas territory.

By Sophia Gonzalez

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