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French Ministers Conclude New Caledonia Trip Amid Protests

23.02.2024 11:42

Protests against constitutional change allowing French citizens, who uninterruptedly lived in New Caledonia for 10 years, to vote in local polls.

Three French ministers concluded their two-day visit to New Caledonia this week amid protests against a proposed constitutional review of electoral voters.

The clashes were reported in the capital Noumea since Wednesday when Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, Overseas Minister Marie Guevenoux and Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti were in town for official meetings.

According to Radio New Zealand, an estimated 2,000 protesters "had been called to voice their opposition to a French-planned constitutional amendment process which would include the modification of New Caledonia's electoral roll for local elections."

The issue relates to a constitutional review initiated by Darmanin for New Caledonia.

If adopted, the change in the constitution would allow "any French citizen who has uninterruptedly resided in New Caledonia for the past ten years would be allowed to vote in local elections."

Union Caledonienne's (UC) "field action coordinating cell" including trade union USTKE and the Labor party organized the demonstration.

"It's completely out of the question to 'unfreeze' the electoral roll," said UC President Daniel Goa during the demonstrations on Wednesday.

Darmanin has paid six visits to the French colony in the past year.

The protesters late on Wednesday moved out of downtown Noumea after five policemen were injured while five protesters were arrested after cops fired teargas to disperse the crowd.

Pro-France politician Nicolas Metzdorf said: "This kind of call to hatred, directly from UC... must stop. Violent protests will not halt the electoral roll being 'unfrozen'."

"With the minimum ten-year period, it seems perfectly reasonable and those who are against this are in fact against democracy," Darmanin said as he concluded his sixth trip to the French colony. -

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