“Return to peace” – Macron on resolving the crisis in New Caledonia

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“Return to peace” – Macron on resolving the crisis in New Caledonia

French President Emmanuel Macron has arrived in New Caledonia to mediate in the French overseas territory, which is being rocked by serious unrest. “I stand with the people for the return to peace, tranquility and security,” Macron said on Thursday after landing at the airport in the archipelago, 1,500 kilometers east of Australia.

Decisions would be taken and announcements made during his visit, Macron promised before talks with local politicians and business representatives. “My goal here, together with the ministers and the entire government, is to support the people.” Macron said he wanted to discuss New Caledonia’s future with all groups. According to presidential aides, there is no developed plan. However, no major political decisions are expected.

Important for France militarily and geopolitically
New Caledonia is particularly important for France militarily and geopolitically, but also because of its large nickel reserves. The riots that broke out more than a week ago, which left several dead and countless injured, were the result of a planned constitutional reform by the government in Paris. This is intended to give thousands of citizens of French descent the right to vote and therefore more political influence if they have lived there for at least ten years. Supporters of independence for the archipelago oppose this. Protesters fear that electoral reforms implemented in faraway Paris will reduce the influence of indigenous Kanaks, who make up 40 percent of the island’s 270,000 residents.

France temporarily declared a state of emergency in New Caledonia and sent additional police and armed forces to the archipelago. The situation has now calmed down somewhat. During his visit, Macron will be accompanied by Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin and Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu.

“Further large-scale operations planned”
Police reinforcements in New Caledonia will remain in the country as long as necessary, Macron said. “In the coming hours and days, further large-scale operations will be planned if necessary to fully restore republican order, because there is no other choice.” France, Australia and New Zealand have organized special flights to evacuate them.

France annexed New Caledonia in 1853 and granted the colony overseas territory status in 1946. The country is the world’s third largest nickel producer, but the sector is in crisis and one in five residents live below the poverty line.

Source: Krone

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