ARCHIVE IMAGE - New Caledonia has elected its first pro-independence MP in decades after anti-French riots erupted on the archipelago earlier this year. (EPA-EFE/Bruno Favre)

News Vote 24

New Caledonia elects pro-independence MP after anti-France riots


New Caledonia elected its first pro-independence MP in decades after anti-French riots erupted on the South Pacific archipelago earlier this year.

A proposed voter reform regulation spearheaded by Paris had sparked violence in the territory in May, with clashes between police and the native Kanak population leading to the deaths of several people.

People demonstrate as French President Emmanuel Macron’s motorcade drives past in Noumea, France’s Pacific territory of New Caledonia, on 23 May 2024.  EPA-EFE/LUDOVIC MARIN / POOL MAXPPP OUT

Those on the island have now opted to elect nationalist candidate Emmanuel Tjibaou as one of its two representatives to the mainland French Parliament.

The son of the late Kanak independence movement leader Jean-Marie Tjibaou, who was assassinated in 1989, Emmanuel is the first separatist MP to be elected to the French legislature since 1986.

While he did not run under its banner, Tjibaou was reportedly endorsed by many senior members of the Socialist Kanak National Liberation Front (FLNKS), a group that refuses to recognise the legitimacy of the French elections on the island.

Emmanuel’s brother Joël was previously arrested and charged by French authorities over allegations he was involved in this year’s rioting.

His lawyer had insisted that, while being involved, he had “always tried to control the situation, with the aim of ensuring that there were no deaths or injuries”.

“He wanted to wage a peaceful fight,” the lawyer said.

Emmanuel was elected alongside loyalist MP Nicolas Metzdorf and is expected to align himself with the left-wing New Popular Front (NFP) alliance.