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3 Dead In Unrest Over Constitutional Changes In French Colony Of New Caledonia

15.05.2024 12:57

Capital Noumea in grip of violence over proposed constitutional changes allowing French citizens to vote.

At least three people were killed and many others injured in New Caledonia on the third day of unrest in the capital Noumea over proposed constitutional changes that may empower non-natives to vote during elections.

Authorities have imposed a curfew as violence escalated among the warring parties.

Charles Wea, a spokesman for international relations in the President's Office, confirmed the deaths to the Pacific News Desk of Radio New Zealand.

"It was a drive-by shooting by 'French people', not Kanak Melanesian people. Many more were injured and in hospital," said Wea, adding: "The situation was very, very difficult."

The unrest relates to a constitutional review initiated by French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin for New Caledonia.

If the changes are adopted, any French citizen who has uninterruptedly resided in New Caledonia for the past 10 years would be allowed to vote in local elections.

The locals fear such changes will dilute the vote of the indigenous population.

Shops were burnt, and all schools, shops, and government services remained closed in Noumea.

Louis Le Franc, Paris's top diplomat in the French colony, told a news conference: "I sense dark hours have arrived in New Caledonia," calling for calm

It is the second time this year that violence erupted in Noumea.

Clashes were reported across Noumea when Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, Overseas Minister Marie Guevenoux, and Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti were in town for official meetings early this year in February. -

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