Macron puts New Caledonia voting reform on hold after riots

Emmanuel Macron, French President

© APA | Emmanuel Macron, French President

# 23 May 2024 21:53 (UTC +04:00)

President Emmanuel Macron says he will not force through a controversial voting reform in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia following deadly rioting, APA reports quoting BBC.

Speaking on a visit to the main island, Mr Macron said local leaders should engage in dialogue to find an alternative agreement for the archipelago's future.

Six people including two police officers have been killed and hundreds more wounded in riots, looting and arson.

Currently, voting in the territory is restricted to indigenous Kanaks and those who arrived from France before 1998.

The planned reform would see more French residents - including any who have been in New Caledonia for at least 10 years - able to vote.

Many Kanaks - who make up about 40% of the population - fear this would dilute their political voice and make any future independence referendum harder to achieve.

"I have pledged that this reform will not pass today in the current context," Mr Macron said.

"We will allow some weeks to allow a calming of tensions and resumption of of dialogue to find a broad accord" among all parties, he added, saying he would review the situation in a month.