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'It's a revolution here, using Tiktok' - Pro-independence activist on New Caledonia unrest

A member of the pro-indepdendence Kanak group says the unrest in New Caledonia is a "revolt", as the death toll rises to five, with a gendarme being accidently shot.

Pro-independence Kanaks were on the streets in the capital Nouméa on Friday morning, continuing their protests against French constitutional amendments which started on Monday.

On Wednesday, the French National Assembly voted 351 in favour (mostly right-wing parties) and 153 against (mostly left-wing parties) the proposed constitutional amendments that would open the electoral roll and allow those who have been residing in New Caledonia for an uninterrupted ten years to vote in local elections.

A member of the indigenous group, who did not want to be named, told RNZ Pacific during a march that they would continue to rebel.

"We are calling for revolt, a revolution. It's a revolution here, using Tiktok," he said.

"We are calling for calm and will try to maintain the situation with blockades."

France's overseas minister, Gerald Darmanin said the gendarme was killed on Thursday morning in an accidental shooting.

The President of New Caledonia's Chamber of Commerce and Industry told the news agency AFP the first three nights of riots in Nouméa caused an estimated €200 million in damage.

President Emmanuel Macron had proposed a videoconference to New Caledonian elected officials, which could not be held on Thursday, as the "various actors were not wishing to dialogue with each other for the moment," according to the Elysée.

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It said the situation on the ground makes it difficult, and as a result, Macron will exchange directly with the elected representatives, separately.

He is set to meet with elected New Caledonia officials individually on Friday, Paris time.

Local broadcaster NC La 1ère is reporting people in Nouméa had lined up outside a supermarket in Auteuil.

The New Caledonia president's office spokesperson, Charles Wea told RNZ Midday Report things are quite calm in the north and south of New Caledonia and its islands, but still difficult in Nouméa.

Five people have died as a result of rioting in the French terriory.

Another official said Nouméa woke to a calmer, more peaceful situation this morning, due to the state of emergency that's been imposed.

But fires were still lit at a school and two businesses.

Forte affluence aussi ce matin au niveau d'une grande surface, à Auteuil. Les denrées sont limitées. pic.twitter.com/LdEgMXpGLm

— NC La 1ère (@ncla1ere) May 16, 2024 

Pacific churches stand in solidarity

The Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) has called for the UN to lead an impartial and competent dialogue mission to monitor the situation in New Caledonia.

In a statement on Friday, it said it "stands in deep solidarity with our sisters and brothers of Kanaky", saying the violence is born of frustration and pain.

It said after 20 years of consensual management, the breakdown in dialogue between the French government and the independence fighters and the Kanak people is now a reality.

The PCC is calling for prayer, solidarity and compassion, saying all human life is precious and sacred, whatever one's political opinions or ethnic origin.

"As we pray and call for a cessation of violence, by all sides, we are also cognisant of the reality that what we have witnessed, not only over the past few days, but in the months since the fist of the French government began to squeeze tighter on the throats of the Kanak people as they continue to cry from the depths of their hearts for their own experience of liberty, equity and fraternity."

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