With Troubles at Home, Macron Pops Up 10,000 Miles Away

President Emmanuel Macron of France has a lot to manage. The European elections are fast approaching, and his party is predicted to lose. There are the frenzied preparations for the Olympic Games in Paris. A manhunt is underway for a convict whose brazen and deadly jailbreak shocked the country.

The last place many expected Mr. Macron to be was on a plane to one of France’s territories in the Pacific, where riots have exploded all week. But there he was, arriving in New Caledonia on Thursday with three ministers in tow, on a mission to heal and listen in a territory where many hold him personally responsible for the unrest.

“I come here with determination to work toward restoring peace, with lots of respect and humility,” he said when he arrived.

The riots were set off by the prospect of a vote last week in the National Assembly in Paris to expand voting rights in the territory. Many in the local Indigenous population worry that the law would hamper the long process toward independence.

Mr. Macron planned to meet with local officials and civil-society activists, to thank the police and start a round of dialogue before quickly hopping back on a plane and returning more than 10,000 miles to mainland France.

The trip, in many ways, is classic Macron. He feels that any dispute, no matter how heated, can be resolved through personal dialogue with him. But given the local distrust of the government, many believe his trip is not just short, but shortsighted.

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