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Police in New Caledonia arrested pro-independence leader Christian Tein and 10 others Wednesday over their role in the deadly riots that swept the overseas French territory last month, unrest that came as Paris sought to impose voting reforms critics said would negatively impact the archipelago’s Indigenous population, Al Jazeera reported.

Authorities said the individuals were detained for “organized crime” offenses and accused them of playing a role in sparking days of unrest in May.

Meanwhile, New Caledonia’s officials have launched an investigation into last month’s violence, which killed nine people including two police officers, injured hundreds and caused around $1.6 billion in damage. The unrest also prompted France to declare a state of emergency in the territory and deploy around 3,000 security personnel to the archipelago.

The violence broke out after both houses of the French parliament passed a reform that would allow French residents living in New Caledonia for 10 years or more to vote.

The territory’s Indigenous Kanak people – who make up around 41 percent of the population – expressed concern that the reform would leave them in a minority and hinder their efforts to push for independence from Paris.

Last month, French President Emmanuel Macron visited the archipelago and met with officials and independence leaders, including Tein. He left the island saying that Paris would review the reforms again within a month.

Last week, he announced the suspension of the reform plan, the Guardian noted.

Observers said the measure needed approval by a constitutional congress comprising both houses before it could be passed. However, Macron dissolved parliament and called for early elections on June 30 and July 7, preventing the congress from convening.

Pro-independence groups have demanded the complete withdrawal of the reform plan, while others believe the measure is in effect dead following the president’s call for new elections – a decision influenced by the recent defeat of Macron’s allies by far-right parties in the European parliamentary elections earlier this month.

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