New Caledonia: state of emergency triggered to limit the number of deaths?

The riots in New Caledonia have already left three dead since Monday according to the Elysée.

New Caledonia: state of emergency triggered to limit the number of deaths?

The riots in New Caledonia have already left three dead since Monday according to the Elysée. Emmanuel Macron wants to trigger a state of emergency on the archipelago to try to put an end to the violence.

The riots continue and the toll rises in New Caledonia. Three people have died since violence broke out on the archipelago, the Elysée announced this Wednesday, May 15, at the end of the defense and security council convened by Emmanuel Macron. The presidential palace also mentioned the case of a “very seriously injured” police officer, whose life-threatening prognosis is in jeopardy according to several media.

Earlier this Wednesday, the High Commissioner of the Republic in New Caledonia announced that two people had been killed. One of them 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 giving further details. No details were given about the other victims.

The violence and riots observed since Monday, May 13 in the Pacific territory have left hundreds injured according to Gérald Darmanin, including "around a hundred gendarmes who were evacuated while their gendarmerie was being attacked with an ax and the "We were shooting at them with live ammunition" added the Minister of the Interior.

Emmanuel Macron spoke with a handful of ministers for more than two hours this Wednesday morning during an urgently convened defense and security council. During the meeting, the head of state declared that "all violence is intolerable and will be the subject of an implacable response to ensure the return of republican order" according to the presidency and the triggering of the state of affairs. The emergency was probably at the heart of the conversations: "The President of the Republic requested that the decree aimed at declaring a state of emergency in New Caledonia be included on the agenda of the Council of Ministers which will meet at 4:30 p.m. " announced the Élysée in a press release.

The Head of State reiterates his call for calm to the inhabitants of New Caledonia, but also to local elected officials. The latter, whether separatists or loyalists, also called for “calm and reason” in a joint declaration. Both the government and local elected officials are encouraging the resumption of discussions on constitutional reform, the adoption of which ignited the situation. The Prime Minister, Gabriel Attal, thus announced to the National Assembly that he will propose a meeting date for the parties involved in the conflict in New Caledonia "in the coming hours." The President of the Republic recalled the need to "a resumption of political dialogue and asked the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Interior and Overseas to quickly invite the Caledonian delegations to Paris", the Elysée press release also indicated.

The authorities fear the continuation and above all an amplification of violence. “I let you imagine what will happen if militias start shooting at armed people,” declared Louis Le Franc, the high commissioner of the Republic, 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 having adopted the constitutional reform which aims to expand the local electorate. A text highly contested by elected Caledonian separatists. Some of them are calling for the text to be withdrawn, judging that calm cannot return as long as the reform in its current version is in the pipeline.

At least 140 arrests took place in Nouméa and elsewhere in New Caledonia between Monday and Wednesday according to the High Commissioner of the Republic. 1,800 police officers and gendarmes are on site according to the Ministry of the Interior and 500 other members of the police will be deployed in the coming hours.

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.