Police arrest pro-independence leader in New Caledonia riot probe

Eight people were arrested in New Caledonia on Wednesday in connection with deadly riots that rocked the French overseas territory last month. Among them is a prominent Kanak pro-independence figure.

The prosecutor's office in the capital Noumea confirmed the arrests as part of an investigation into two weeks of protests that broke out in mid-May amid anger over plans to reform voting rules.

Christian Tein, leader of the Cellule de Coordination des Actions de Terrain (CCAT) movement behind the uprising, was taken into custody along with seven others whose identities are unknown.

Tein has been a leading force against plans to give French citizens who have been living in New Caledonia for over a decade the right to vote in local elections.

Offices raided

The headquarters of the Union Calédonienne (UC), which also houses CCAT offices, was on Wednesday cordoned off by security forces who searched the premises.

The UC said the arrests were unwarranted and called for an immediate explanation. A security perimeter was set up around the gendarmerie headquarters in Noumea where the detainees are being held.

Nearby streets were closed to traffic.

The probe into who instigated the violence that killed nine people including two police officers was launched on 17 May.

Read more on RFI English

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