New Caledonia declares state of emergency following four deaths in riots | Political News

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The local authorities have placed five suspects under house arrest in efforts to restore calm in New Caledonia, as violence and unrest continue over Paris’s proposed changes to provincial election rules. France has declared a state of emergency and deployed police and military reinforcements in response to the ongoing violence that has resulted in three Indigenous Kanak people and a police officer being killed and hundreds injured.

The state of emergency, which grants the authorities broad search and arrest powers, came into effect at 5am on Thursday. Five individuals have been placed under house arrest for their alleged involvement in the violent disturbances, with more searches planned in the coming hours. Over 200 individuals described as “rioters” have been arrested.

Troops are en route from Marseille to help secure the closed international airport and ports in New Caledonia. The state of emergency will be in place for 12 days as tensions continue to rise over the proposed reforms to the voting rights in the territory.

The controversy stems from plans to amend the French constitution, allowing long-term residents to vote in provincial elections, which many Indigenous Kanak people fear will diminish their influence. New Caledonia, colonized by France in the 19th century, has a complex history marked by periodic outbreaks of unrest and a push for greater autonomy.

Despite ongoing tensions, recent referendums have indicated the majority of voters in New Caledonia wish to remain part of France. However, pro-independence parties have cited concerns over the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Kanak community and disparities in wealth between different ethnic groups as reasons for discontent.

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