France’s Macron to Visit New Caledonia After Week of Unrest

(Bloomberg) -- French President Emmanuel Macron plans to visit New Caledonia after a week of unrest over proposed changes to election voting rules rocked the overseas territory.

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He will head to the Pacific archipelago later on Tuesday and will speak with political, economic and youth representatives, French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said at the National Assembly.

“The goal is to be at their side, and to start preparing and anticipating reconstruction already,” he told lawmakers. “The president is also going there to reestablish dialogue.”

Paris declared a state of emergency in the islands last week after violence broke out that left several people dead, with cars burned, shops torched and barricades erected along roads. The unrest also affected nickel production, with French miner Eramet SA running its local unit at minimum capacity.

A government bill aimed at expanding the number of residents of the islands who are eligible to vote has inflamed tensions relations with the indigenous Kanak population, who say it would dilute their power. The Kanaks, the largest indigenous group on the islands, have long complained of being sidelined by the descendants of European settlers.

“Calm is returning, the situation isn’t completely back to normal, but the situation is improving,” government spokeswoman Prisca Thevenot told reporters earlier on Tuesday following a weekly cabinet meeting.

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