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Violent Protests Erupt in New Caledonia Over Constitutional Reform

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Violent protests have erupted in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia following proposed constitutional reforms, leading to a curfew and disturbances in the capital, Noumea. The unrest, which saw vehicles torched and roads blocked, prompted a swift response from authorities.

The French National Assembly‘s consideration of changes to the New Caledonian constitution sparked the demonstrations, with tensions escalating overnight as shops and buildings were set on fire. The main airport, La Tontouta International, was shut down amidst the chaos.

Protests have been ongoing as pro-independence activists voice their opposition to the proposed constitutional amendments, particularly those concerning the enlargement of the electorate. Concerns have been raised among the Indigenous Kanak people who fear further marginalization.

In response to the escalating violence, security forces have been mobilized in Noumea and surrounding areas, with a curfew imposed from 6pm to 6am. The French High Commissioner, Louis Le Franc, condemned the violent acts as serious attacks on people and property.

New Caledonia’s significance as one of France’s major overseas territories adds a geopolitical dimension to the situation. The territory has been a focal point of French Pacific influence and a key factor in past referendums on independence.

The closure of the airport and the arrest of 36 individuals underscore the severity of the situation. The unrest in New Caledonia highlights the complex political dynamics at play in the Pacific region.

As international attention turns to the developments in New Caledonia, media outlets like Al Jazeera provide crucial coverage of the events unfolding in the territory. The protests and violence serve as a reminder of the challenges surrounding constitutional reform and indigenous rights in the region.

Rachel Adams

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