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President Emmanuel Macron is visiting New Caledonia as the Pacific archipelago prepares for a crucial vote in the autumn on whether to embrace full independence from its old colonial power. The French head of state will be there on the 4th and 5th of May, two grim dates in the calendar of recent New Caledonian history. On May 5th 1988, 19 hostage takers and two soldiers died after the military intervened to rescue gendarmes kidnapped by a separatist group on the island of Ouvéa. A year later, on May 4th, 1989, two nationalist leaders were killed on the same island by another separatist who felt they had betrayed the cause. Joseph Confavreux reports on a bloody past that still hangs over the region's politics and on the attempts at reconciliation and forgiveness.
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