New Caledonia: already two deaths, an “insurrection” feared by the authorities

Two people were killed during riots in New Caledonia.

New Caledonia: already two deaths, an “insurrection” feared by the authorities

Two people were killed during riots in New Caledonia. The High Commissioner of the Republic, Louis Le Franc, judges the situation “insurrectional” and regrets a “deadly spiral”.

New Caledonia experienced a second night of riots from Tuesday May 14 to Wednesday May 15. But the toll in the last few hours is significantly heavier: two people were killed, announced Louis Le Franc, the High Commissioner of the Republic on the archipelago. The first victim died by gunshot in Nouméa, "not from a shot by the police or the gendarmerie, but from someone who certainly wanted to defend themselves" explained the representative of the French State to the press, without give more details. Concerning the second death, no details were provided on the circumstances of the death by the office of the high commissioner.

In addition to the two deaths, hundreds of injuries are to be deplored according to Gérald Darmanin. Among these victims are "around a hundred gendarmes who were evacuated while their gendarmerie was attacked with an ax and live ammunition was fired at them" added the Minister of the Interior.

Faced with the scale of the violence, Emmanuel Macron called for calm and sent a letter to local elected officials. The Head of State condemned "unworthy" violence and invited the Caledonian independence and loyalist representatives to find an agreement on a more comprehensive text than the current reform "before the end of June" and the meeting of Parliament in Congress to adopt the text on the enlargement of the local electoral body. The President of the Republic also convened a Defense and National Security Council this Wednesday morning to examine the situation in New Caledonia, which is experiencing its most significant violence since the 1980s.

While the violence continues, despite the measures put in place in New Caledonia such as the curfew or the massive deployment of law enforcement, the authorities fear the worst. “I’ll let you imagine what will happen if militias start shooting at armed people,” declared Louis Le Franc, who describes the situation as “insurrectional.” Several “exchanges of buckshot between rioters and civil defense groups in Nouméa and Paita” and an “attempted intrusion into the Saint Michel brigade” were recorded.

The tensions and violence affecting the archipelago were reignited by the vote of the National Assembly which adopted the constitutional reform highly contested by elected Caledonian independence activists. Some independence parties are calling for the text to be withdrawn and for appeasement, judging that calm cannot return as long as the reform in its current version is in the pipeline. The presidents of the Caledonian independence parties denounced and condemned the outbreak of violence and called for discussions to continue.

The High Commissioner of the Republic also reported, this Wednesday, only 140 arrests in Nouméa. Schools “will remain closed until further notice” specifies the vice-rectorate of New Caledonia. Tontoura airport remains closed to commercial flights for the time being. “The situation is not serious, it is very serious. If the call for calm is not heard, there will be many deaths in the Nouméa metropolitan area today. We have entered a spiral dangerous, a mortal spiral" regretted Louis Le Franc during a press conference. “If necessary I would call on the military forces, by requesting assistance,” he said.