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French President Emmanuel Macron to visit violence-hit New Caledonia

France's President Emmanuel Macron, 2nd right, chairs a security and defence council at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Monday, May 20, 2024.
France's President Emmanuel Macron, 2nd right, chairs a security and defence council at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Monday, May 20, 2024. Copyright Benoit Tessier/AP
Copyright Benoit Tessier/AP
By Euronews with AP & EBU
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French President Emmanuel Macron plans to make a surprise trip to riot-hit New Caledonia, the French Pacific territory that has been gripped by days of deadly unrest and where indigenous people have long sought independence.

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French President Emmanuel Macron is travelling to New Caledonia after deadly armed clashes gripped the nation.

The move signals French authorities’ growing confidence that reinforced security measures in the region are bringing the French Pacific territory under control.

“He will go there tonight,” government spokesperson Prisca Thevenot said on Tuesday, “The return to calm is starting to arrive.”

Paris declared a state of emergency last week, and 1,000 reinforcements were sent to bolster security forces that had lost control of some parts of the New Caledonian capital Nouméa.

The region had been racked by violence, looting, arson and other mayhem following a move by the French National Assembly to approve changes to voting laws. The eligibility to vote was expanded to include French nationals who had lived on the island for more than ten years.

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

There have been decades of tensions between indigenous Kanaks who seek independence for the archipelago of 270,000 people, including descendants of colonisers and others who want to remain part of France.

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