The tragedy of New Caledonia

A Gendarmerie officer looks on from an armoured vehicle in Noumea, France’s Pacific territory of New Caledonia, on May 18, 2024. Hundreds of French security personnel tried to restore order in the Pacific island territory of New Caledonia on May 18, after a fifth night of riots, looting and unrest. (Photo by Delphine Mayeur / AFP)

On the night of Monday 13 May, Noumea exploded.

Across many parts of New Caledonia’s capital, young people took to the streets, stoning French riot police, looting and burning shops, car yards and factories. The next day, French High Commissioner Louis Le Franc declared a 6pm to 6am curfew for Noumea and outlying suburbs, and banned the carrying of weapons – yet the riots continued over following nights.

Sonia Backès, leader of the anti-independence party . . .

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