the international airport will reopen on Monday, the start of the curfew pushed back to 8 p.m.

A gendarme stands behind a roadblock on a road leading to the airport in Nouméa, New Caledonia, June 7, 2024. THOMAS BERNARDI / AFP

The High Commission of the Republic in New Caledonia announced, Sunday June 16, its decision to reopen Nouméa international airport during the day on Monday and “to push back the start of the curfew to 8 p.m.”, compared to 18 hours until then.

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The airport had been closed since May 14 due to the strong tensions which shook the South Pacific archipelago, born from the contestation of a law for an electoral thaw. The violence left nine people dead and caused significant damage.

The High Commission explains that the decision to reopen the airport was taken due to “traffic during the day (…) made possible on RT1 »a double expressway linking the center of Nouméa to La Tontouta international airport, and long inaccessible due to the numerous roadblocks installed by independence demonstrators.

For the past week, gendarmes have been regularly clearing the road, ensuring that the roadblocks are not rebuilt after their passage. Only a few rare flights, by exemption, had been able to take place recently, with passengers placed on waiting lists.

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Gradual return of students to school

The representative of the French State on the territory also says it is pushing back the start of the curfew by two hours – which runs until 6 a.m. the next day – “with regard to the improvement of the situation and in order to facilitate the gradual return to normal life”.

The curfew was introduced on May 14, then the state of emergency on May 15, the latter having been lifted on May 28. “The ban on the sale of alcohol (exception for wine merchants), the sale and transport of weapons is extended”recalled the High Commission.

On Monday, primary, middle and high school students will gradually return to school, depending on the areas and establishments.

According to the latest report on Sunday, the riots left nine dead, including two gendarmes, and “no new deaths have been reported”, underlined the High Commission, which reported 248 police officers and gendarmes injured and 1,187 people arrested. A total of 3,500 members of the security forces are deployed in New Caledonia, where around 270,000 people live.

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The bill suspended by the dissolution

Emmanuel Macron affirmed, Wednesday during a press conference in Paris, ” to suspend “ the draft constitutional law modifying the electoral body of New Caledonia at the origin of the riots. The president said he wanted “give all its strength to on-site dialogue and the return to order”.

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Adopted successively by the Senate in April, then by the National Assembly last month, this text still had to be adopted by the two chambers meeting in Congress before June 30. De facto, the head of state cannot convene a Congress since the dissolution of the National Assembly.

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Pushed by the loyalist camp, the text aimed to expand the electoral body, frozen since 2007, for the provincial elections scheduled for the end of the year in New Caledonia. The independence camp fiercely opposed it, believing that it would marginalize indigenous voters.

Many buildings were burned, some stores were looted. The High Commissioner of the Republic estimated the damage at more than 1.5 billion euros, 570 businesses were completely or almost entirely destroyed, with a direct loss estimated at around 6,000 jobs.

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The World with AFP

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