Yesterday, France received with astonishment the veiled accusations of the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, about external interference, specifically from Azerbaijan, behind the revolt that is shaking New Caledonia, the archipelago in Oceania that is under French sovereignty since the middle of the 19th century.

Just over three weeks before the European elections, the crisis in the remote territory – which is on the UN decolonization list – is a delicate and uncomfortable issue for Macron and his Government, which the extreme right accuses of lack of authority and the constant deterioration of public order and security, in the metropolis and overseas. Five people have died in the riots, including two policemen, and there have been hundreds of injuries and multiple acts of looting, fires, destruction of property and blockades that threaten the supply of basic products.

Darmanin launched accusations against Azerbaijan, which went unnoticed at the time, two weeks ago in the Laws Committee of the National Assembly. Yesterday he reiterated them to the France 2 broadcaster. The minister did not directly link the Caucasian country to the outbreak of violence, but he did say that external interference, in the case of Baku, “is not a phantom, it’s a reality”, and he recalled an agreement signed between a sector of Canac independenceists and Azerbaijan with the aim of favoring the independence of the islands. This Azerbaijani attitude would be the answer to the traditional French support to Armenia, also in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It is true that in July independentists from Kanak and other French overseas territories were invited to Baku. According to Le Parisien, Azerbaijan would provide financial and propaganda support to social networks. Baku called the accusations “unfounded” and “insulting”.

In France, it is believed that the hand of Moscow could not be alien to what is happening, as it already happened in the Sahel before the expulsion of the French army. China, which maintains an expansionist attitude in the region, is also suspected of wanting to incite discontent. It is one of the reasons why TikTok has been banned in the archipelago.

Darmanin described the organization coordinating the protests as “mafia”. The Government has sent an additional thousand police and gendarmes, partly from French Polynesia and the rest from metropolitan France, bringing the total number of agents on the islands to 2,700. Military and also civilian planes temporarily requisitioned by the State have been used. The soldiers protect the port and the airport.

The prime minister, Gabriel Attal, spoke of a “security air bridge” for the transport of police as well as groceries and medicine, which are already in short supply.