New Caledonia: Security forces deployed, curfew imposed after violence | Politics News

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Buildings and cars torched after protest against constitutional amendments descends into rioting.

Security forces have been mobilised and a curfew imposed in the French Pacific island territory of New Caledonia after a general strike and protests over proposed constitutional amendments descended into violence.

Shops and buildings were set on fire in the capital Noumea, as well as surrounding settlements, on Monday night, after a day of action over the proposed changes which would increase the size of the electorate for upcoming elections.

Many in the Indigenous population fear the move will “further minimise the indigenous Kanak people”.

Noting that the violence was continuing, Louis Le Franc, the high commissioner of New Caledonia, said in a statement that security forces had been deployed and a curfew would be imposed from 6pm on May 14 (07:00 GMT) until 6am on May 15 (19:00 GMT on May 14).

“The high commissioner condemns in the strongest terms these acts of violence, which constitute serious attacks on people and property,” the statement said.

New Caledonia’s airport was also closed.

The high commissioner said 36 people had been arrested.

New Caledonia is one of France’s biggest overseas territories and a key part of its claim as a Pacific power.

Voters rejected independence in a series of referendums that were promised after the islands were rocked by violent unrest.

Pro-independence groups boycotted the last vote in 2021 and rejected the result in which turnout was only 44 percent.

Noumea lies about 17,000km (10,563 miles) from Paris.

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