18 May 2024

New Caledonia unrest explained

From Saturday Morning, 8:10 am on 18 May 2024
French soldiers of the 8th Marine Infantry Regiment (8e RIMa) secure the Magenta airport in Noumea, France's Pacific territory of New Caledonia, on May 17, 2024. France deployed troops to New Caledonia's ports and international airport, banned TikTok and imposed a state of emergency on May 16 after three nights of clashes that have left four dead and hundreds wounded. Pro-independence, largely indigenous protests against a French plan to impose new voting rules on its Pacific archipelago have spiralled into the deadliest violence since the 1980s, with a police officer among several killed by gunfire. (Photo by Delphine Mayeur / AFP)

Photo: AFP/Delphine Mayeur

Police have used tear gas and stun grenades on rioters at an airport near Nouméa as the unrest and rioting in New Caledonia goes into its sixth day. Five people, including two police officers, have died and hundreds of people are injured amid clashes between authorities and pro-independence protesters. They were sparked by anger at a proposed new law that would allow French residents who have lived in New Caledonia for more than 10 years to vote - which some say will weaken the indigenous Kanak vote. Correspondent for Islands Business Magazine, Nic Maclennan, who has been covering this story for decades, explains the back-story.