New Caledonia State of Emergency to Be Lifted, Says Paris

PARIS/SYDNEY – Seven additional mobile force units are set to arrive as reinforcements in New Caledonia, according to a statement from the Elysée on May 27. The statement also indicated that the state of emergency in the French Pacific territory will end as planned on the morning of May 28 local time. The state of emergency is scheduled to conclude on May 27 at 8:00 p.m. in Paris (Tuesday 5:00 a.m. in Noumea).

This announcement follows a fortnight of intense upheaval that has left seven people dead, led to hundreds of arrests, and resulted in the destruction of numerous buildings and cars. The unrest was triggered by a contested electoral reform and exacerbated by significant economic disparities between the indigenous Kanak population and people of European descent.

The situation escalated on Friday evening when police shot dead a man, just a day after French President Emmanuel Macron visited the territory in an attempt to ease tensions.

The arrival of an additional 480 gendarmes will increase the total number of French security forces in New Caledonia to approximately 3,500. Macron’s decision not to renew the state of emergency reflects Paris’s intention to initiate a de-escalation process and re-establish conditions conducive to dialogue, the statement noted.

The main pro-independence political coalition, FLNKS (Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front), released a communiqué on May 25 emphasizing the importance of easing tensions and advocating for a “political and non-repressive solution.”

The lifting of the state of emergency is intended to facilitate a meeting for FLNKS, the French statement explained. Macron reiterated that the removal of roadblocks is a necessary condition for the commencement of concrete and serious negotiations.

Christian Tein of the Field Action Coordination Cell (CCAT), which has organized roadblocks that are hindering the movement and supply of food and medicine across the island, stated on May 25 that the group “remains mobilized, we maintain the resistance in our neighborhoods, in a structured, organized way.”

No announcement has been made regarding the night curfew imposed by local authorities in New Caledonia. Additionally, the operator of Noumea international airport has declared that it will remain closed until June 2.