New Caledonia unrest: Nouméa journalist says ‘less rioting’ as France sends more police

Police reinforcements have arrived in New Caledonia where two days of violent unrest has affected the capital.

Violence erupted Monday night as Paris debated proposed constitutional changes which could favour France’s continued governance in the territory.

The French National Assembly adopted the text on the thawing of the electorate in New Caledonia, according to franceinfo.

The text was adopted by 351 votes to 153.

“About a hundred amendments remained to be studied on Tuesday afternoon in the National Assembly, while tense debates lasted until late into the night yesterday. The constitutional bill was finally adopted late at night in Paris,” it reported.

Rioting continued overnight on Tuesday in Nouméa, with reports of gunfire and arrests as people defied the curfew.

A journalist on the ground, Coralie Cochin, told RNZ Morning Report protesters have outnumbered the local police force.

“It’s very difficult for the authorities to react because there was so many people in the streets, so the policemen were not enough,” she said.

“So France, Paris sent more policemen, they arrived last night. And so now it’s better on the streets, there are less rioting but it’s not finish[ed] for the moment.”

AFP is reporting French overseas minister Gerald Darmanin telling the French Assembly more than 70 police officers and gendarmes have been injured.

France Prime Minister Gabriel Attal condemned the violence saying “it’s through talking, and only through talking, that we can find a solution…. All we want is to find an overall political agreement, with those in favour of and against independence”.

He said he would invite representatives of the territory’s population – both pro- and anti-independence – to Paris for talks.

Cochin, who works for New Caledonian radio station La Premiere, said it was total chaos, with burnt cars and debris blocking roads, and people looting stores.

She said it is now daylight and people are seeing what’s happened during the unrest overnight.

“They can discover some stores that are burned, some stores that have been stolen, and it’s very difficult to drive on the roads because you have a lot things on the road, a lot of them are closed, and we have to be very careful because some of the people rioting are still in the streets.”

She said more than 80 people have been arrested and 35 officers are injured.

Around six-hundred French military forces personnel have been sent from mainland France.

People in Nouméa are also reporting smoke inhalation issues due to the fires.

Unborn baby reportedly dies

On Tuesday, emergency services reportedly confirmed to local media the unborn baby of a woman in labour had died because roadblocks meant the ambulance could not get to her fast enough.

Cochin said this is the most violent situation she has covered in two decades of work in Nouméa.

“A mother was expecting a baby and she tried to go to the hospital, and she couldn’t do that because the ambulance couldn’t reach her house and so the baby died inside [her belly]…so it’s quite crazy.”

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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