New Caledonia airport re-opens as unrest eases

Saint Joseph Cathedral and the Moselle Bay in Noumea, New Caledonia. The view from the hill of F.O.L.  Nouméa is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the waorld.

New Caledonia’s international airport – Nouméa-La Tontouta – will reopen today after being shut for more than a month following the outbreak of riots in the region.

The territory’s high commissioner, Louis Le Franc, announced on Sunday that the airport will reopen for the first time since the beginning of May.

In a statement, Le Franc said the decision was made due to the re-opening of the highway linking the airport to the capital city. The highway had previously been blocked by multiple barricades. He said this was made possible due to “numerous securing and clearing operations”.

The curfew has also been increased to 8pm from 6pm “in view of the improvement in the situation and in order to facilitate the gradual return to normal life” the high commissioner said.

A ban on the sale of alcohol and weapons remains in place.

A total of 9 people including two gendarmes were killed in the riots which began after the French government proposed voting reforms.

The reforms would have given voting rights to thousands of people – including French residents – who had lived in New Caledonia for more than 10 years.

The proposal was met with strong opposition from those who feared it would dilute the Indigenous Kanak vote, as well as those pushing for independence from France.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced that the plans had been “suspended” last week after he encountered problems closer to home when his party experienced a heavy defeat in the European parliamentary elections.

The outbreak of riots in the region meant that dozens of Australians had to be evacuated on emergency flights.

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