France's decision to hold the last of a series of three votes on Sunday, against the wishes of Indigenous Kanaks, has drawn condemnation in neighboring Pacific islands where sensitivities over colonization are high.
The local parliament in France's South Pacific territory of New Caledonia has voted in favour of compulsory Covid-19 vaccinations of all its adult population and visitors to the archipelago over fears of the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus that is sweeping French Polynesia.
Following an investigation by Mediapart which revealed how the newly appointed head of the gendarmerie in France’s South Pacific territory of New Caledonia had been convicted of domestic violence, Colonel Éric Steiger was forced to resign his prestigious post last Friday. Despite the public outrage prompted by the case, and notably how the colonel’s hierarchy were well aware of his conviction, French interior minister Gérald Darmanin, in a radio interview on Tuesday morning, denounced a “cabal” against Steiger, who has admitted committing violence against his ex-wife, adding “I am not for witch-hunts”. Matthieu Suc, Pascale Pascariello and Antton Rouget report.
The inhabitants of the semi-autonomous South Pacific French territory of New Caledonia are to vote on Sunday in a referendum on whether they want full independence from France, which colonised the archipelago in the mid-19th century. In a similar referendum in 2018, nearly 57% of votes cast were against cutting ties with Paris. Can the pro-independence movement swing the result in their favour this time around? Joseph Confavreux interviews New Caledonia's prominent pro-independence political leader Jean-Pierre Djaïwé.
The French overseas territory of New Caledonia will hold a referendum on November 4th to decide whether the South Pacific archipelago should opt for self-rule. It comes after a 30-year political process to ease continuing high tensions between pro-independence militants from the indigenous Kanak population and the community of ethnic Europeans. The territory has a chequered and often violent history since it became a French possession in 1853, which Mediapart is charting this summer in a series of articles which examine the construction of what was a most singular colonial project. Here, Lucie Delaporte returns to the story of how the defeated militants of the 1871 Paris Commune were deported to New Caledonia alongside Algerian tribesmen who led one of the first major revolts against French rule in Algeria.
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.