Emmanuel Macron tries to appease and calls for renewed dialogue “with a view to a global agreement”

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Emmanuel Macron next to the Minister of the Interior and Overseas Territories, Gerald Darmanin, at the residence of the High Commissioner of New Caledonia, in Nouméa, May 22, 2024. LUDOVIC MARIN / VIA REUTERS

Nearly 35,000 kilometers round trip swallowed by the presidential Airbus, for a surprise express visit and a result which is anything but guaranteed. Emmanuel Macron arrived on Thursday May 23 at 8:30 a.m. (local time) in New Caledonia shaken by the insurrection, and left around midnight. Without having uttered the word that the Kanak independence activists mobilized for ten days had all been waiting for: ” withdrawal “.

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Withdrawal of the constitutional bill on the enlargement of the electorate for the next territorial election, the spark which reignited the revolt, Emmanuel Macron, prefers other words. “After listening to everyone, he said, I am committed to ensuring that this reform will not be implemented in force today, and that we will give ourselves a few weeks to allow for calm and the resumption of dialogue with a view to a global agreement. »

This political agreement between separatists and loyalists has been awaited for two years, to redefine the status of New Caledonia in its links with France. It will include a chapter on New Caledonian citizenship, but also a process of self-determination which could, according to the Head of State, be sealed by a referendum.

Since Monday May 13, Nouméa and its surrounding area have been devastated by violent rioters who methodically targeted the economic tool of the New Caledonian “capital” by burning nearly 400 industrial and commercial sites. Blockades continue to cut off flows from the city and its airport, at the risk of suffocating the entire archipelago: barricades of independence activists sometimes joined by radical elements on one side, barriers raised by residents of the more affluent southern neighborhoods , anxious to protect their property without fear of arming themselves too. The curfew remains in effect for the night.

“A protean movement”

While visiting the police officers at the Nouméa central police station, Emmanuel Macron mentioned “an absolutely unprecedented insurrection movement that no one had seen coming with such a level of violence”. “What I have seen from New Caledonia so far is mutual aid, sharing, personally I did not expect it at all, no one could have predicted the scale”he assured.

As for qualifying what has been happening since the explosion of violence on May 13 as a Kanak insurrection, “reality will tell us”and him “wants to remain cautious at this stage”responded the President of the Republic to World. “There were political slogans. The founders of the CCAT [la cellule de coordination des actions de terrain créée par le parti Union calédonienne du FLNKS] are political leaders. At the same time, FLNKS officials spoke to me about repeat offenders who joined [au mouvement] and committed abuses. It’s a protean movement”. Too early to decide, but, assures the Head of State, “the bet we are making, if it is a political movement, is to confront a political response”.

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