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France deploys troops, bans TikTok to quell deadly New Caledonia unrest – Times of India

WorldFrance deploys troops, bans TikTok to quell deadly New Caledonia unrest - Times of India

NEW DELHI: France sent soldiers to the ports and international airport of New Caledonia, banned TikTok, and declared a state of emergency on Thursday after three nights of violent confrontations that resulted in four fatalities and hundreds of injuries.
Pro-independence protests, mainly led by indigenous people, are taking place against a French proposal to introduce new voting regulations in the Pacific archipelago.The situation has escalated into the most violent conflict since the 1980s, resulting in the death of a police officer and several others due to gunfire.
The burnt debris accumulated on main roads after four days of unrest was spread among small pieces of rock and cement that seemed to have been thrown during riots.
Armored vehicles moved around the city’s palm-lined streets, which are usually crowded with tourists.
Fearful residents in the area constructed makeshift roadblocks by stacking various items such as wooden pallets, wheelbarrows, bedframes, plastic jerricans, tree fronds, and scraps of fencing across the streets.
Security forces placed five suspected ringleaders under house arrest as part of a comprehensive French response. This action was based on a statement by the high commission, which represents the French state in New Caledonia.
House searches will be carried out “in the coming hours’, it said.
More than 200 “rioters’ have been arrested since the clashes broke out, the high commission said.
Officials said that hundreds of people, including 64 police, have been wounded.
“We need milk’
French authorities reported a third night of “clashes’, though AFP correspondents in the streets of the capital Noumea said it appeared calmer than previous nights.
White residents in certain neighborhoods sat on garden chairs, operated barricades, and displayed makeshift white flags. This symbolized their desire to peacefully monitor the streets.
Onlookers walked slowly around the remains of shops that had been burned, moving through twisted shutters, shelves that had been looted, and packaging that had been discarded.
“We just grabbed what there was in the shops to eat. Soon there will be no more shops,” said one woman in a suburb of the capital, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“We need milk for the children. I don’t see it as looting,” she told AFP.
France is establishing an “air bridge’, the high commission said, to rapidly move in troop and police reinforcements but also to bring in essential supplies for the population.
French President Emmanuel Macron offered to hold talks with New Caledonian lawmakers in Paris on Thursday and called for a resumption of political dialogue.
There is a TikTok ban.
French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal informed a crisis ministerial meeting that soldiers had been sent to protect ports and the international airport, which is not open to commercial flights.
He said that TikTok had been banned because rioters were using it. By Thursday morning, AFP could identify less than 20 accounts that were linked to the violence on the platform.
New Caledonia is located between Australia and Fiji. It is one of several territories worldwide that are still predominantly under French control in the post-colonial period.
France colonized the territory in the latter half of the nineteenth century, giving it a unique status different from other overseas territories of the country.
Independence has been rejected in referendums three times, but it still has strong support among the Kanak people, whose ancestors have inhabited the islands for thousands of years.
The state of emergency allows authorities to implement travel restrictions, impose house arrests, and conduct searches.
There are restrictions on gatherings, carrying weapons, and alcohol sales in addition to a night curfew.
A French government spokeswoman said that almost 1,800 law enforcement officers have been mobilised, and an additional 500 will reinforce them.
The act of arson and pillaging.
People went out to protest. The National Assembly of France, located 17,000 kilometres (10,600 miles) away, voted on Tuesday to grant voting rights to residents who have resided in New Caledonia for 10 years. The reform still requires approval from a joint session of both chambers of the French parliament.
Pro-independence forces claim that this action would reduce the voting power of Kanaks, who constitute approximately 41 percent of the population.
Those supporting the reform argue that voter lists have not been updated since 1998, which has deprived island residents who arrived later from being able to participate in provincial elections.
Macron has said French lawmakers would vote to definitively adopt the constitutional change by the end of June unless New Caledonia’s opposing sides agree on a new text that “takes into account the progress made and everyone’s aspirations’.
Pro- and anti-independence parties issued a joint statement calling for “calm and reason’ to return to the archipelago, adding that “we are destined to keep living together’.
(With inputs from agencies)

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