SPC prioritizes staff safety amidst unrest in New Caledonia

May 15, 2024 10:10 am

[ Source : Aljeezra.

The Pacific Community says all its staff, their families and country participants based in Noumea, New Caledonia are safe and not directly impacted by the ongoing civil disturbance.

Protesters have clashed with police in Noumea against plans to allow more people to take part in local elections in the French-ruled territory, which indigenous Kanak’s reject.

Drone footage show fires and billowing smoke around the city as rioters burned cars and dozens of businesses.

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The proposed changes, which the National Assembly in Paris was due to vote, will allow French residents who have lived in New Caledonia for 10 years to vote in provincial elections – a move local leaders fear will dilute the Kanak vote. However the government says this is needed so elections are democratic.

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal says the vote should proceed as planned, but confirmed that French President Emmanuel Macron will not rush into convening a special congress of the two houses of parliament required to rubber-stamp the bill.

Instead, Attal says Macron will invite representatives of the territory’s population – both pro- and anti-independence – to Paris for talks on the future status of New Caledonia, after decades of tensions over France’s role.

The SPC is supporting its staff and families while assessing the situation on a regular basis. It says this is being done in coordination with the Government of New Caledonia and partners.

SPC is a Pacific-owned organization and its headquarters is in Noumea. It has 297 staff in New Caledonia and a total of 794 staff across five Pacific offices in Fiji,

Vanuatu, Federated States of Micronesia, Tonga and New Caledonia.

Staff safety and the wellbeing of families is the SPC’s priority at this time and SPC staff across the other four offices in Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu and Micronesia are continuing as normal to support the members.