‘A lot of fire, violence’: Nouméa burns as New Caledonia comes to a halt

By rnz.co.nz and is republished with permission

There are long queues outside shopping centres in the New Caledonian capital Nouméa, amid unrest in the French territory.

The unrest comes amid proposed constitutional changes, which could strengthen voting rights for anti-independence supporters in New Caledonia. Photo: Screengrab / NC la 1ère

There are long queues outside shopping centres in the New Caledonian capital Nouméa, amid unrest in the French territory.

On Monday, there were demonstrations, marches and clashes with security forces in New Caledonia; and French High commissioner Louis Le Franc told the public broadcaster he had called for reinforcements to maintain law and order.

The unrest comes amid proposed constitutional changes, which could strengthen voting rights for anti-independence supporters in New Caledonia.

A Nouméa resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, told RNZ Pacific people have started panic buying in scenes reminiscent of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“A lot of fire, violence…but it’s better. I stay safe at home. There are a lot of police and army. I want the government to put the action for the peace (sic).”

Authorities have put in a curfew for Nouméa and its surrounds, from 6pm tonight to 6am tomorrow.

Airports are closed due to protest action.

Public services and schools in the affected areas announced they were sending staff and students home on Monday, and that they would remain closed for the next few days.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters, who is on a five-country Pacific mission this week, has cancelled his visit to New Caledonia due to the unrest.

Peters and a delegation of other ministers were due to visit the capital Nouméa later this week.

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