In New Caledonia, Macron Says Priority is a Return to Calm

French President Emmanuel Macron visits the central police station in Noumea, France's Pacific territory of New Caledonia on May 23, 2024. LUDOVIC MARIN/Pool via REUTERS
French President Emmanuel Macron visits the central police station in Noumea, France's Pacific territory of New Caledonia on May 23, 2024. LUDOVIC MARIN/Pool via REUTERS
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In New Caledonia, Macron Says Priority is a Return to Calm

French President Emmanuel Macron visits the central police station in Noumea, France's Pacific territory of New Caledonia on May 23, 2024. LUDOVIC MARIN/Pool via REUTERS
French President Emmanuel Macron visits the central police station in Noumea, France's Pacific territory of New Caledonia on May 23, 2024. LUDOVIC MARIN/Pool via REUTERS

French President Emmanuel Macron pushed Thursday for a lifting of protesters' barricades in riot-hit New Caledonia and pledged that reinforced police forces battling deadly unrest on the Pacific archipelago “will stay as long as necessary.”

Pro-independence Kanak leaders, who a week earlier declined Macron's offer of talks by video, turned out Thursday to greet him in person, bringing them together at a meeting in the capital Nouméa, with rival loyalist leaders who want New Caledonia, which became French in 1853 under Emperor Napoleon III, to remain part of France.

Macron opened the meeting by calling for a minute of silence for the six people killed in shootings during the violence, including two gendarmes, and read out their names. He subsequently urged local leaders to use their clout to help restore order. He said a state of emergency imposed by Paris the previous week to boost police powers could be lifted only if local leaders call for a clearing away of barricades that demonstrators and people trying to protect their neighborhoods have erected in Nouméa and beyond.

“It's a simple phrase and it's best to say because it can have an effect,” Macron said.

Barricades have turned some parts of Nouméa into no-go zones and made traveling around perilous, including for the sick requiring medical treatment and for families fretting about where to find food and water after shops were pillaged and torched. Unrest continued to simmer even as Macron jetted in, despite a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew and more than 1,000 reinforcements for the archipelago's police and gendarmes, now 3,000-strong, the French leader said.

“I will be very clear here. These forces will remain as long as necessary. Even during the Olympic Games and Paralympics," which open in Paris on July 26, Macron said.

At Nouméa's La Tontouta International Airport, used for special evacuation flights for stranded tourists but still closed to commercial services, Macron said on arrival that he wanted "to be alongside the people and see a return to peace, calm and security as soon as possible.”

Macron added that he would discuss the resources needed to repair the damage wrought by days of shootings, arson and other violence that has left at least six dead. The destruction is estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of euros (dollars).

“We will discuss questions of economic reconstruction, support and rapid response, and the most delicate political questions, as we talk about the future of New Caledonia,” he said. “By the end of the day, decisions will be taken and announcements will be made.”

When asked by a reporter whether he thought a 12-hour visit was enough, Macron responded: “We will see. I don’t have a limit.”

Accompanied by his defense and interior security ministers, Macron later met police at Noumea’s central police station.
"Thank you for being here, thank you very much," Macron told a uniformed officer, before going into a closed-door meeting.



Iran Top Court Overturns Rapper Toomaj Salehi’s Death Sentence, Lawyer Says

People hold placards bearing portraits of Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi, who is arrested in Iran, and portraits of children (L), who were killed during the protests in Iran, during a rally in support of Iranian women in Istanbul, on November 26, 2022. (AFP)
People hold placards bearing portraits of Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi, who is arrested in Iran, and portraits of children (L), who were killed during the protests in Iran, during a rally in support of Iranian women in Istanbul, on November 26, 2022. (AFP)
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Iran Top Court Overturns Rapper Toomaj Salehi’s Death Sentence, Lawyer Says

People hold placards bearing portraits of Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi, who is arrested in Iran, and portraits of children (L), who were killed during the protests in Iran, during a rally in support of Iranian women in Istanbul, on November 26, 2022. (AFP)
People hold placards bearing portraits of Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi, who is arrested in Iran, and portraits of children (L), who were killed during the protests in Iran, during a rally in support of Iranian women in Istanbul, on November 26, 2022. (AFP)

Iran's supreme court has overturned Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi's death sentence on charges linked to the country's 2022-23 period of unrest, his lawyer wrote in a post on the X social media platform on Saturday.

"The death sentence of #Toomaj_Salehi was overturned and based on the appeal decision ...of the Supreme Court, the case will be referred to (another) branch for consideration," attorney Amir Raisian wrote on X.

There was no immediate official confirmation of the ruling.

Salehi's songs supported protests sparked by the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish Iranian woman arrested for allegedly wearing an "improper" hijab.