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Macron wants to mediate in the New Caledonia conflict

For around ten days, France's overseas territory of New Caledonia has been shaken by serious unrest. President Macron has now arrived on the archipelago, where he wants to ensure the return of “peace, calm and security”.

French President Emmanuel Macron has arrived in New Caledonia to mediate in the overseas territory shaken by unrest. To this end, he has begun talks with various political forces. The President is accompanied by Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin and Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu, among others.

“I stand with the people for a return to peace, calm and security,” said Macron after landing at the airport of the archipelago, which is located 1,500 kilometers east of Australia. “My goal here is to support the people together with the ministers and the entire government.” He wants to discuss the future of New Caledonia with all groups.

At least six dead in protests

The riots were sparked by a constitutional reform planned by the government in Paris. This is intended to give thousands of French-born citizens the right to vote and thus more political influence. Supporters of the island group's independence are resisting this. They fear that the reform will reduce the influence of the indigenous Kanaks, who make up 40 percent of the island's 270,000 inhabitants.

At least six people were killed in violent protests last week, and there were lootings and arson attacks on cars. The French government has deployed 3,000 additional police officers to bring the situation under control again.

Millions in damage for the economy

The police reinforcements in New Caledonia will remain in the country as long as necessary, Macron said. “In the coming hours and days, further massive operations will be planned if necessary to fully restore republican order, because there is no other choice.”

Thousands of tourists are stranded because of the unrest. France, Australia and New Zealand have organized special flights to evacuate them. New Caledonia is of military and geopolitical importance to France, as well as because of its large nickel deposits.

According to Macron, his talks will also address the supply shortages resulting from the riots and economic reconstruction. Last week, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry estimated the damage to New Caledonia's economy at at least 150 million euros.

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