New Caledonia: 3 killed, scores wounded as riots continue

Three people were killed and others wounded as riots and looting continued in New Caledonia on Tuesday night.

The unrest came after French lawmakers voted on a contentious bill, according to the high commissioner of the French Pacific territory.

French President Emmanuel Macron canceled a planned trip to Normandy early on Wednesday to convene a crisis meeting on the issue, the Elysee Palace said. He’d called for calm and condemned the violence the previous day.

What we know about the riots

The three killed were young indigenous Kanak people, a spokesperson for New Caledonia’s president Louis Mapou said based on police information, according to the Reuters news agency.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin on Wednesday said “hundreds” of people, including police, were hurt in the latest unrest.

On Wednesday, gunshots were heard in the morning despite a curfew. Meanwhile, schools in the capital, Noumea, remained shut.

The government of the French territory, to the east of Australia in the Indo-Pacific, had earlier mobilized security forces and issued a 12-hour overnight curfew for Tuesday night.

Vote on changes to the New Caledonian constitution passes

The region was on the boil this week, ahead of a French National Assembly vote on changes to the New Caledonian constitution, which would enable more migrants on the island — in many cases from France — to vote.

Riots erupted after the National Assembly approved the changes to voting rules on Tuesday, local media reported.

Lawmakers in Paris voted 351 to 153 in favor of a new bill allowing French residents who have lived in the French territory for 10 years to vote in provincial elections.

Supporters of New Caledonia’s independence fear the bill will dilute the vote of the indigenous Kanak people.

Driving past burnt cars
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