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More than 130 arrested and curfew imposed after riots in New Caledonia

Independence supporters demonstrate with the Kanak flag outside a voting station in the Riviere Salee district of Noumea, New Caledonia, Sunday, Oct.4, 2020 AP Photo/Mathurin
Independence supporters demonstrate with the Kanak flag outside a voting station in the Riviere Salee district of Noumea, New Caledonia, Sunday, Oct.4, 2020 AP Photo/Mathurin Copyright Mathurin Derel/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Mathurin Derel/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with EBU & AP
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At least two people have died, during overnight rioting in New Caledonia whilst authorities announced a two-day curfew and banned gatherings on Tuesday.

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At least two people have died during riots in New Caledonia which occurred overnight. Authorities announced a two-day curfew and banned gatherings. 

The riots reportedly erupted over planned changes to the constitution which involved expanding voter eligibility in local elections to include French nationals who lived on the island for more than ten years.

The move was seen by the indigenous Kanak population as an attempt to minimise their influence.

Shops and businesses were looted and burnt, and shots were fired against police officers, according to news reports.

54 police officers and gendarmes were injured, and more than 130 people were arrested, according to the French high Commission in New Caledonia.

Authorities announced a two-day curfew and banned gatherings on Tuesday following the riots.

The airport was shut down and dozens of flights were cancelled.  

The rioting began on Monday night before a schedule debate in the French parliament on Tuesday to discuss the voting reforms.

French Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin said, " ‘The curfew will be maintained. A call for calm in the next few minutes by political leaders, particularly pro-independence leaders, is to be welcomed.".

Opponents to the reforms say it would benefit pro-France politicians in New Caledonia while further marginalising the indigenous population, who suffered from strict segregation policies and discrimination.

“Violence is never a solution,” said French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, “Our priority, of course, is to re-establish order, calm and serenity.

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