Nine dead since start of New Caledonia unrest

This photograph shows a Kanak flag waving next to a burning vehicle at an independantist roadblock at La Tamoa, in the commune of Paita, France’s Pacific territory of New Caledonia on 19 May, 2024. Photo: DELPHINE MAYEUR / AFP

A man in his thirties who was shot amongst the New Caledonia rioting has died of his wounds. 

He was allegedly shot by a gendarme who responded after being targeted, according to initial investigations, the public prosecutor said at the end of May. 

franceinfo reports this is the ninth death since the beginning of the unrest. 

The French territory’s future is in limbo after Emmanuel Macron called snap parliamentary elections later this month and announced the dissolution of parliament, a journalist covering the deadly New Caledonia riots says. 

Macron said the two rounds of voting would take place on 30 June and 07 July, a few weeks before the Paris Olympics. 

Nouméa-based journalist Coralie Cochin said the proposed constitutional amendment which sparked the unrest may not go ahead. 

The amendment aims at “unfreezing” New Caledonia’s electoral roll for local elections to allow any citizen having resided there for at least 10 years to cast their vote at provincial and Congress (Parliament) elections. 

This was perceived by the pro-independence movement as a way to dilute indigenous votes and therefore weaken their political representation. 

The amendment had passed all stages and was set to go through the final hurdle, passing though the Congress of Versailles. 

Cochin said Pro-France supporters would be disappointed while those for independence will be pleased. 

“I think they will be very surprised and very shocked.” 

She said pro-France supporters expected Macron to push through the amendment by the end of this month. 

“With the dissolving of the National Assembly, it’s impossible to do that anymore. 

“On the independent side, I think they are going to be happy because for the moment, it means that this law, this project is suspended or maybe abandoned.”

A week after violence broke out in mid-May, President Macron flew to the territory to diffuse tensions. 

However, since he left locals have been feeling increasingly forgotten by Paris. 

“They’re going feel more forgotten than before because Emmanuel Macron was really focused on the European election and the Olympic Games,” Cochin said. 

“But now he has a very national issue with these elections and the change of government so I wonder where he’s going to have time for New Caledonia. 

“I think for the pro-France people, they’re going to be very frightened by that and for the pro-independence, I think they’re going to take advantage of that,” said Cochin said