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15 June 2024

Olympic torch relay canceled in New Caledonia amid unrest


Published: 17:19, 18 May 2024

Olympic torch relay canceled in New Caledonia amid unrest

Photo: Collected

The French authorities have decided to cancel the Olympic torch relay to be held in France's overseas territory of New Caledonia on June 11 due to the continuing unrest organized by supporters of the island's independence.

The decision was made following French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal's meeting with chairs of both chambers of the parliament, leaders of the parliamentary factions and New Caledonian lawmakers, the report said.

The Olympic fire is supposed to overcome the distance of 12,000 kilometers (7,456 miles), pass through 400 cities and arrive in Paris on July 26. The Paris Olympic Games will take place from July 26 to August 11.

On Monday (13 May), a peaceful demonstration against a bill on voting rights spiraled into unrest in Noumea, the capital of New Caledonia. Protesters, including many minors, were robbing and setting fire to stores, gas stations, pharmacies, and car centers. On Thursday, French lawmakers voted in favor of the bill 351 to 153 as unrest continued.

The controversial bill provides for lowering the residency bar for voting rights for people living in New Caledonia to 10 years. Pro-independence forces say it would dilute the share of the vote held by indigenous Kanak people that make up about 40% of the population. As of today, only those who were on the electoral register during the 1998 Noumea Agreement, which gave the territory a higher degree of autonomy, along with their children, have the right to vote.