France to lift state of emergency in New Caledonia

The state of emergency in New Caledonia, which has been hit by deadly rioting, will be lifted early Tuesday local time, as 480 gendarmes are being sent to the Pacific territory as reinforcement.

According to a statement from the Elysée palace on Sunday: "The President has decided for the time being not to extend the state of emergency" beyond its legal deadline of 12 days to allow for meetings with the pro-independence FLNKS party.

Seven people have been killed in New Caledonia since riots over planned voting reforms erupted on 13 May.

Paris declared a state of emergency in the overseas territory two weeks ago, flying in hundreds of police and military reinforcements to restore order in the archipelago, which lies around 17,000 kilometres from mainland France.

The French government hopes that this easing of restrictions will enable dialogue to be re-established on the many blockades still in place.

Reinforcements deployed in Nouméa

On Saturday, the FLNKS party renewed its "call for calm" and asked for "the blockades on the main traffic routes to be eased".

The lifting of the blockades is "the necessary condition for the opening of concrete and serious negotiations", the French presidency added in its statement, which said the state of emergency would be lifted at 5:00am Tuesday (18h00UT Monday).

Police are struggling to control certain districts of the capital Nouméa and the international airport will remain closed to commercial flights until at least 2 June.

Read more on RFI English

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