Two people have died and several hundred have been injured, including a hundred police officers, in the second consecutive night of violence in the French island territory of New Caledonia, in the South Pacific.

A situation that occurs within the framework of the protests that have broken out in response to the reform of the electoral roll of the territory approved on Tuesday by the French National Assembly. With the change, people who have arrived from the metropolis and have lived there for at least ten years will be able to vote in New Caledonia, which will dilute the electoral weight of the population of native origin, which is largely pro-independence.

The French Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, has announced in statements on RTL radio that they have also been dozens of buildings burned residential, industrial and commercial.

President Emmanuel Macron has convened a security and defense council, as announced by the Elysée, to analyze the crisiswhich is unprecedented since the wave of violence that the territory suffered in the 1980s.

The situation is at an “insurrectional” level, has warned the High Commissioner of the Republic in New Caledonia, Louis Le Franc, who has reported that 140 arrests have been made since Monday.

If the call for calm is not heeded tonight there will be many more victims“Le Franc warned in a press conference. In addition, he added that air traffic has been suspended since the safety of traffic around the airports cannot be guaranteed.

Citizen militias against rioters

Local media have reported an extremely tense nightwith the population organized into neighborhood militias equipped with sticks, bats, helmets and some firearms to contain groups of young independence supporters, armed with axes, given the inability of the Police to be everywhere.

The violence, which has been repeated despite the curfew established by the French Government, is centered in the capital, Noumea, and is the work of pro-independence youth groups. These young people are largely minors, according to the representative for New Caledonia Nicolas Metzdorf.

The FLNKS independence movement condemns violence and calls for calm

The president of the southern province, Sonia Backès, has asked Macron to establish a state of emergency in the territory. Macron has done a call for calm and has invited pro-independence and loyalist political leaders to travel to Paris to seek an agreement.

If there is not one, he has indicated that he will convene a Congress (meeting of the two chambers of Parliament) before the end of June to agree on the constitutional review of the electoral roll of New Caledonia.

In the middle of this dispute is the delicate situation of the local economy, which depends largely on nickel exportbut which faces a complicated situation due to the fall in the price of that metal in the international market added to the high price of energy.

Added to that is the political frustration of the independence campwho abstained from participating in the last self-determination referendum of 2021, a consultation that he had asked to delay due to the health situation due to the coronavirus epidemic in the territory.

Local media also talk about foreign interference, especially from Russia and China, through social networks and aimed at young people. On Monday in Noumea, the capital of this island territory located 17,000 kilometers from the metropolis and inhabited by some 270,000 people, protesters set cars, homes and factories on fire, looted businesses and confronted law enforcement with weapons, according to official sources.

A curfew has been in force in Noumea since Tuesday and schools and airport have closed. The French Government has announced the sending of four riot squads to reinforce the police force. Under agreements signed in 1998, New Caledonia has held three referendums on its independence, all of them with the victory of those in favor of remaining France.