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‘Remain Mobilized’: Pro-Independence Protesters in New Caledonia Stand Their Ground – Report

© AFP 2023 / THEO ROUBYProtesters wave flags of the Socialist Kanak National Liberation Front (FLNKS) during a demonstration against the enlargement of the electorate for the forthcoming provincial elections in New Caledonia, in Noumea, on April 13, 2024
Protesters wave flags of the Socialist Kanak National Liberation Front (FLNKS)  during a demonstration against the enlargement of the electorate for the forthcoming provincial elections in New Caledonia, in Noumea, on April 13, 2024 - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.05.2024
France is keeping a tight grip on a remnant of its former colonial empire as indigenous demonstrators fear being politically sidelined.
A leader of pro-independence forces in the French overseas territory of New Caledonia is calling on protesters to “remain mobilized” and “maintain resistance” as French President Emmanuel Macron enforces a state of emergency in response to massive demonstrations.
Christian Tein, the head of the Pacific archipelago’s Field Action Coordination Unit party, made the call in a video posted to social media.
“We remain mobilized [and] maintain all [forms] of resistance,” said the independence leader, urging protesters to remain non-violent. “There has been too much suffering, there’s too much at stake and we must see [this] through [and] achieve our goals in a coordinated, structured and organized way… Our main objective is for our country to obtain full sovereignty.”
Riots and demonstrations broke out in New Caledonia’s capital of Nouméa earlier this month after Macron proposed a reform to the country’s electoral system that is perceived as tightening France’s colonial grip on the territory.
French gendarmes patrol the streets in Noumea, New Caledonia, Thursday May, 16, 2024. France has imposed a state of emergency in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.05.2024
Why Can't Macron Afford to Lose French Pacific Territory of New Caledonia?
Since 1998, New Caledonia’s electorate has been limited to its indigenous inhabitants plus pre-1998 residents and their descendants who have lived there continuously for at least 10 years. The European Court of Human Rights ruled the arrangement was acceptable as a provisional move towards decolonization of the territory.
But Macron’s proposal aims to grant the vote to more migrants living there, a move indigenous inhabitants say is a step away from self-rule and towards renewed European control.
The French president met Wednesday with pro-independence leaders, but the summit failed to end the unrest. Macron called on protesters to remove barricades that have brought the territory’s economy to a standstill.
Tein called on demonstrators to allow vehicles carrying food, fuel and medicine to move freely, but Macron has insisted the roadblocks must be dismantled entirely. The French president has imposed a state of emergency on the territory until the demand is met, deploying the French military to maintain a curfew, a ban on public gatherings and the prohibition of the sale of alcohol. Residents have also been blocked from accessing TikTok.
A woman waves a Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS) flag in Noumea, New Caledonia, Wednesday May 15, 2024 - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.05.2024
'Shake Off the Shackles': France Struggles to Keep Its Colonies
Three independence referendums were held in New Caledonia in recent years, with the first two being narrowly defeated despite strong support in the territory’s indigenous-majority provinces. A third referendum held amid COVID-19 restrictions was boycotted by independence advocates.
The development comes after a series of governments of former French colonies in North Africa have forced French and US troops to abandon their military presence in the region. France has been criticized for its treatment of former territories in Africa, which it forces to pay a “colonial tax” for the alleged benefits of French subjugation.
In this Saturday March 7, 2015 file photo, Chadian troops and Nigerian special forces participate in the Flintlock exercises with the U.S. military and its Western partners in Mao, Chad - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.05.2024
France's Counterterrorism Operations in Africa Failed, Led to Conflict - Nebenzia
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