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Fresh violence sparked by New Caledonia independence activists’ extradition | Politics News

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Extradition of protest leaders to France sees police vehicles burned and roads blocked in Pacific territory.

Violence has erupted again in New Caledonia following the extradition to France of pro-independence leaders.

Protesters in the French Pacific territory burned police vehicles and blocked roads overnight on Sunday after activist Christian Tein and six others were flown to France in pre-trial detention in connection with the recent violence in which nine people, including two police officers, were killed.

France’s High Commission in New Caledonia’s capital Noumea said in a statement on Monday that protesters set fire to the town hall in the Koumac commune and destroyed areas in Paita.

The Dumbea municipal council said a firefighting vehicle was attacked, possibly with gunshots, and some schools were forced to close due to the protests.

French loyalist politicians, including Sonia Backes and Nicolas Metzdorf, said in a statement on Monday that a third of local businesses had been destroyed.

They added that they had sent a letter to President Emmanuel Macron requesting the New Caledonia government be placed under state administration, as it was “no longer fit to lead”.


The unrest in the semi-autonomous French Pacific territory erupted in May after France voted to approve reforms to allow thousands more French residents who have lived in the territory for 10 years to vote.

Paris says the measure is needed to improve democracy. However, Indigenous Kanak people fear that France’s decision will dilute their vote and make it harder for any future referendum on independence to pass.

Tein, the leader of the CCAT (Field Action Coordination Cell) pro-independence movement, was arrested last week.

Alongside six others, he was transferred to a jail in mainland France to await trial on charges relating to the unrest last month, which as well as the deaths saw hundreds wounded and damages estimated at $1.6bn.

France deployed 3,000 soldiers and police to the archipelago, about 1,300km (800 miles) northeast of Australia, to restore calm.

“This transfer was organised during the night by means of a plane specially chartered for the mission,” Yves Dupas, the public prosecutor in the territory’s capital, Noumea, said in a statement on Sunday.

Daniel Goa, president of Caledonian Union, the biggest pro-independence political party, said he was “astonished” at the deportations.

“All they have done has been to organise more peaceful demonstrations,” he said in a statement. He denied the prosecutor’s allegations that Tein and the others were sponsors of violence.

CCAT has been operating barricades that have disrupted traffic for weeks.

Tein had met Macron during the latter’s visit to Noumea last month aimed at resolving the political impasse.

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