Monday, June 17, 2024

French president in place in troubled New Caledonia


French President Emmanuel Macron waves as he boards the presidential plane that will take him to rebel-torn New Caledonia. The trip is spontaneous, according to AFP sources. Photo: Ludovic Marin / AP / NTB

Of NTB | 23.05.2024 00:19:28

War and conflicts: After landing in the capital Noumea, Emmanuel Macron said he hoped peace and security on the archipelago would be restored as quickly as possible.

The president’s quick decision to fly to the southwestern Pacific archipelago, some 17,000 kilometers from mainland France, is a sign of how seriously French authorities view the pro-separatist unrest going on there, according to AFP.

A source close to Macron has told the news agency that the trip is “completely improvised” and that the plan was drawn up less than 24 hours before departure. The president is said to have canceled other plans for the rest of the week, despite the fact that EU elections are due in June.

It is expected that Macron will spend around twelve hours in New Caledonia, and that during his visit he will set up a working group to deal with the crisis. Whether anyone will be willing to meet the president is unknown.

While a French elected official says the spontaneous trip is a gamble, a presidential adviser says the outcome could go either way.

– Now it’s zero or double, says the adviser, who does not want to be named.

After nine days of rioting, at least six people have been killed in New Caledonia and hundreds injured.

The island group, colonized in the second half of the 19th century, is formally an integral part of France, but has a distinctive status and significant internal self-government. There has long been a strained relationship between the French authorities and pro-separatist voices among New Caledonia’s indigenous population, the Kanak.

The last time Macron visited New Caledonia was on a trip last July, a visit that was boycotted by representatives of the Kanak population.

(© NTB)


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