Kanak, Caldoche, Caillou… The lexicon of the disaster in New Caledonia | EUROtoday

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As a fragile return to calm begins in New Caledonia, the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron goes there on Tuesday night to arrange a “mission”. After six deaths and greater than per week of riots on the archipelago, the safety state of affairs is “improving”, in line with the authorities. France 24 returns to the political set off – the reform of the voters – of this unprecedented sequence in 40 years, in addition to a number of different phrases to clarify the state of affairs on the spot.

The Kanaks type the primary group of the archipelago: they represented 111,856 (or 41.2%) of the 271,407 inhabitants of the territory in 2019, in line with the Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (Isee) of New Caledonia. They reside primarily within the poorest areas, within the north of the archipelago.

A French colony since September 24, 1853, beneath the reign of Napoleon III, New Caledonia grew to become an abroad territory (TOM) from 1946.

The time period for Kanaks comes from the Hawaiian phrase “kanaka” (“human being”). It was “francized” within the nineteenth centurye century and have become “Kanaque”, then utilized in a pejorative method by European settlers to designate the indigenous populations of Melanesia – a gaggle of archipelagos and islands within the southwest Pacific together with New Caledonia, Papua New -Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the Fiji Islands.

But the connotation of this phrase modified within the Seventies and Eighties, when the indigenous inhabitants took up this time period and valued it to make it the id marker of an independence technology.

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It was throughout this similar interval that the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS) was created, in 1984, after the dissolution of the Independence Front. The major independence motion brings collectively political events and left-wing activist teams dedicated to the independence of New Caledonia and a part of the historical past of the struggle towards colonization.

The authorities of New Caledonia is presently chaired by a separatist, Louis Mapou.

The Caldoches are the opposite major group within the territory. They represented 65,488 inhabitants (or 24.1% of the overall inhabitants) of the archipelago in 2019, in line with Isee of New Caledonia. They usually reside reverse the Kanaks, in additional prosperous and residential neighborhoods within the south of the territory, significantly in Nouméa, the capital.

The phrase is a contraction of the title Caledonia and the derogatory suffix “-oche”, utilized by the Kanak group to designate the descendants of free settlers or French convicts – who represented the vast majority of the Caledonian colonate till the start of the twentieth century.e century. The European group dwelling there hardly ever makes use of this phrase to explain itself, usually preferring to introduce themselves by the extra impartial time period “Caledonians”.

The metropolitan group dwelling within the archipelago can be typically known as “metro” or “zoreill”. Originating from the island of Reunion, this final title – which might have a hyperlink with the “red ears of Europeans” – is utilized in a pejorative method by native Caledonians to designate metropolitan residents residing in New Caledonia “throughout a switch or for a fixed-term contract”, according to Libération.

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Politically, the Caldoches are most often loyalists – also called non-independence – and tend to work to ensure that the archipelago remains under French rule. The main coalition, born in 2020, is called The Loyalists, and is made up of parties classified in the center and on the right. Its main figure is the president of the Southern province and former Secretary of State Sonia Backès.

New Caledonia is nicknamed the Pebble – separatists also use the term “Kanaky”, for the “land of the Kanaks” – because of its nickel resources. These great riches were discovered in the subsoil of the archipelago at the end of the 19th century.e century by the Saint-Etienne geologist Jules Garnier, as explained by the Outre-mer media La Première.

This metal, which is used to manufacture stainless steel, is also of great importance in the context of the energy transition: it is used in particular for the manufacture of electric batteries.

And in New Caledonia, the nickel industry is crucial economically: in addition to employing nearly 25% of New Caledonian workers, this sector accounts for 90% of the territory's exports each year. Some 193,800 tonnes of the metal were produced in the archipelago in 2023, according to data from the United States Geological Survey, making the archipelago the world's fourth largest producer of nickel behind Indonesia. , the Philippines and Russia. Furthermore, New Caledonia contains between 20% and 30% of the world's reserves, according to Le Monde.

This makes Caillou a territory at the center of all attention. But the collapse in nickel prices – the price of which has fallen by 46% since the start of 2023, the Financial Times explained last February – was one of the factors of discontent for New Caledonian employees working in this sector.

  • Matignon-Oudinot and Nouméa agreements

These two agreements marked notable developments in the status of New Caledonia in recent decades.

In June 1988, a few weeks after the bloody hostage-taking in Ouvéa, the Matignon-Oudinot agreement was signed between Jean Marie Tjibaou (Kanak separatist) and Jacques Lafleur (non-separatist), under the aegis of the Prime Minister. Michel Rocard.

This text officially marks “the desire of the inhabitants of New Caledonia to turn the page on violence and contempt to write pages of peace together”. It creates three provinces – North, South and Loyalty Islands, which are endowed with their own powers to share political responsibilities – and officially recognizes the Kanak people.

See alsoNew Caledonia: changes in status since 1946

Ten years later, the Nouméa Agreement was signed under the supervision of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, in May 1998. “The time has come to acknowledge the shadows of the colonial interval, even when it was not devoid of sunshine”, specifies in particular the text in the preamble.

This agreement creates a collegial government of New Caledonia, in addition to the three existing provinces. He also initiated a process of decolonization of Caillou in stages and postponed the three self-determination referendums for 20 years. These take place in 2018, 2020 and 2021.

To the question “Do you want New Caledonia to achieve full sovereignty and become independent?”, voters answered no at 56.67% (yes at 43.33%) in 2018, no at 53.26% ( yes at 46.74%) in 2020 and no at 96.5% (yes at 3.5%) in 2021 – but the separatists contest these results, having even called for a boycott of the last election.

The question of modifying the electoral body, defended by Emmanuel Macron from the summer of 2023, was the fuse that ignited the powder in New Caledonia. The Senate and the National Assembly adopted, at the beginning of April, then at the beginning of May, the controversial constitutional reform of the executive aimed at broadening the electoral base of the archipelago, with a view to the next provincial elections, postponed until December 15 at the latest. next.

Until this vote, and since 1998, the electorate was partially frozen in the territory. Only natives and long-time residents could take part in provincial elections and referendums, in order to preserve the balance between the Kanak population and newcomers to the archipelago over the years.

This situation led to 20% of voters – those arriving after 1998 – being deprived of their vote in New Caledonia. With this reform, the government plans to open the electorate to all people who have been domiciled there for at least ten years.

If the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, congratulated on X of this vote, the separatists largely disapprove of it. They worry a lack of electoral weight for the Kanaks within the occasion of the registration of 25,000 new voters on the electoral lists of New Caledonia.