On Saturday 12 December, thousands of people demonstrated in Nouméa against the blockades and roadblocks that have been hampering New Caledonia for the past fortnight. These were organized by pro-independence movements hostile to the consortium taking over the nickel factory of the Brazilian group Vale located 80 km south-east of Nouméa..
The police announced that 23,000 people were attending this demonstration which marched through the town centre. the demosntrators passed in front of the High Commissionner of the Republic house which is the representative of the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron. They were carrying blue-white-red flags and singing La Marseillaise, the French national anthem.
A demonstration led by the Loyalists
The demonstration was organized following a call by the Loyalists which brings together the Future With Confidence (Avenir en Confiance – AEC), the main anti-independence political group, and other right-wing parties, including the National Rally (extreme right).
The vast majority of the non-independent political leaders were attending the demonstration. The demonstrators claimed their solidarity with the inhabitants of the Mont-Dore, a neighbour commune of Nouméa, whose road was blocked for a week, with thus no access to the capital city and working places.
27 million AUD of damage
Vale’s nickel processing plant is to be sold to a New Caledonian consortium associated with commodities trader Trafigura. The separatists of the Socialist Kanak National Liberation Front (FLNKS) and the Kanak chieftaincies of the South are firmly opposed to this. On Thursday 10 December, around 200 demonstrators stormed the factory. The management estimated the damage at two billion francs (27 million Australian dollars).
Dialogue to resume this week
The Loyalists, and the State, which provides financial aid, are in favour of this recovery project, which enables 3,000 jobs to be preserved. Given the escalation of violence, Sébastien Lecornu, Minister for Overseas France, launched Friday at FLNKS a call for dialogue.
Victor Tutugoro, spokesman for the political bureau of FLNKS, said Saturday “accept the proposal of the minister”, and said that an appointment had been made for “the beginning of next week”.