France suspends New Caledonia voting reform that sparked deadly riots

rfi:  President Emmanuel Macron says a voting reform that triggered weeks of deadly unrest in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia has been "suspended" in the light of snap parliamentary polls.

"The constitutional project on the electorate in New Caledonia has been suspended," Macron told reporters at at Paris press conference on Wednesday.

Instead he said he aimed to "give full voice to local dialogue and the restoration of order".

The announcement came as a ninth death was confirmed on Tuesday, in the worst violence the archipelago has seen in four decades.

The French government had planned to extend the right to vote in provincial elections to people resident in the territory for at least 10 years, adding a further 24,000 people to electoral rolls.

But indigenous Kanak leaders feared it would dilute their vote among the 270,000-strong population, burying hopes for eventually winning independence from France.

Although approved by both France's National Assembly and Senate, the reform needed a constitutional congress of both houses to become law.

"I have decided to suspend it, because we can't leave things ambiguous in this period," Macron said, in reference to the current political turmoil facing the country.

New Caledonia's President Louis Mapou said the dissolution of the French parliament meant the electoral changes were "no longer relevant".

Nine people, including two gendarmes, died in the unrest, while hundreds were injured.

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