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French President Macron goes on Pacific mission to stop New Caledonia riots

Smoke rises during protests in Noumea, New Caledonia, Wednesday May 15, 2024
Smoke rises during protests in Noumea, New Caledonia, Wednesday May 15, 2024 Copyright AP Photo/Nicolas Job
Copyright AP Photo/Nicolas Job
By Euronews
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The French overseas territory in the southwest Pacific Ocean has been rocked by clashes and looting for more than a week over a voting system reform proposed by Paris.

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French President Emmanuel Macron is on his way to the Pacific island of North Caledonia, where he's expected to arrive on Thursday.

The French government said Prime Minister Gabriel Attal will also travel to the island in the coming weeks.

Six people have been killed, including two police officers, and hundreds have been injured during recent armed clashes, looting and arson in New Caledonia.

Unrest broke out on 13 May as the French government debated changes to the French Constitution to amend the New Caledonia voter lists. 

Opponents fear the measure will benefit pro-France politicians in New Caledonia and further marginalise the indigenous Kanak population, who once suffered from strict segregation policies and widespread discrimination.

A state of emergency is currently enforced on the island, as well as a curfew, and the airport is shut for commercial flights.

Neighbouring Australia and New Zealand have already evacuated dozens of citizens to their respective home countries.

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