Emmanuel Macron forced to spread police thin after riots – just weeks before Olympics

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun17,2024

French President Emmanuel Macron is facing a significant crisis as violent unrest continues to plague New Caledonia, just weeks before the Paris Olympics.

On Thursday, Macron called for the dismantling of protesters’ barricades on the French Pacific archipelago, where reinforced police forces are battling deadly riots.

He pledged that these forces “will stay as long as necessary”, even as France prepares for the massive security operation required for the upcoming Olympic Games.

Macron scrapped his previous schedule to personally address the crisis, flying from Paris to New Caledonia.

His visit, prompted by escalating violence that has resulted in six deaths and widespread destruction, aims to bring stability to the region, which is an important global source of nickel.

Pro-independence Kanak leaders, who had earlier rejected a video call with Macron, met him in person alongside loyalist leaders in the capital, Nouméa. Macron opened the meeting with a minute of silence for those killed in the violence, including two gendarmes, and urged local leaders to help restore order.

“It’s a simple phrase and it’s best to say because it can have an effect,” Macron said, encouraging leaders to call for the removal of barricades that have made parts of Nouméa impassable and disrupted access to essential services.

Despite the presence of over 1,000 reinforcements, raising the total police and gendarme forces to 3,000, unrest continued as Macron arrived. The archipelago has been under a state of emergency, and Macron indicated that the police forces would remain deployed even during the Olympic Games and Paralympics.

Macron arrived early Thursday in New Caledonia, accompanied by his interior and defence ministers.

At the closed La Tontouta International Airport, he expressed his intent to restore peace and security quickly. He also mentioned plans to discuss economic reconstruction and political issues concerning the future of New Caledonia.

“We will discuss questions of economic reconstruction, support and rapid response, and the most delicate political questions, as we talk about the future of New Caledonia,” Macron said. “By the end of the day, decisions will be taken and announcements will be made.”

The violence, which erupted on May 13, coincided with the French legislature’s debate on amending the Constitution to change voter lists in New Caledonia. The National Assembly’s approval of a bill allowing residents who have lived in New Caledonia for at least ten years to vote in provincial elections sparked fears among opponents that it would benefit pro-France politicians and further marginalise the Indigenous Kanaks.

Macron has previously mediated between pro-independence and pro-France factions in New Caledonia, leading to a 2018 referendum where the territory narrowly voted to remain part of France. The current unrest, the most severe since the 1980s, has seen more than 280 arrests and extensive damage estimated in the hundreds of millions of euros.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

Related Post

One thought on “Emmanuel Macron forced to spread police thin after riots – just weeks before Olympics”
  1. As a French citizen, I believe President Macron’s actions during this crisis are necessary to restore peace and order in New Caledonia. It’s crucial for the safety of the residents and the upcoming Paris Olympics that the violent unrest is addressed promptly. Macron’s decision to visit the region personally and engage with local leaders shows a strong commitment to resolving the situation. Let’s hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to the ongoing turmoil.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *