UNEASY TRUCE AMONG CHIEFS ON WALLIS ISLAND

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By Patrick Antoine Decloitre

MATA UTU, Wallis and Futuna (Oceania Flash, June 23) - The situation remains tense on the French Pacific territory of Wallis, where opponents to the current king - the Lavelua - have formed a shadow government, local media report.

The traditional chiefs who oppose the king have completed a series of appointments to form what is described as an alternate traditional government.

The process started last week and during one of these traditional ceremonies, which involved kava ceremonies, a direct clash was narrowly averted between the new chiefs' sympathisers and supporters of the 86-year-old king, who has been in power on Wallis Island since 1959.

One man was seriously injured in the scuffle.

Last month, reformists and a younger generation of Wallisians (who also have the backing of the two other royal families in the French Pacific territory, from Futuna Island) claimed they had initiated a process to topple the king, but this has not yet been confirmed or finalised.

Talks were understood to be going on behind the scenes between rival clans to resolve the impasse. This could lead to a new political configuration, where the King would be retained but would be assisted by a new chiefly cabinet that would be more representative of the younger generation.

Meanwhile, French police have maintained a presence on Wallis in order to prevent a clash between rival parties.

Opposition to the current King grew out of a recent confrontation with French authorities in Wallis: the King's grandson, who was found guilty of unintentional homicide while drunk-driving in January this year, had attempted to evade French justice and an eighteen month jail sentence.

He found shelter at his grandfather's Palace and only gave himself up earlier this month, on June 7.

The King's family, especially his daughter (the mother of the convict), replying to strong request from French public prosecution, had gone as far as asking all French officials to leave Wallis if they persisted in wanting the King's grandson to be jailed.

They stressed the matter had been settled in a traditional manner.

Since last month, the French Prefect and special administrator of Wallis and Futuna, Wavier de Fürst, have also moved to suspend all sitting allowances and salaries for the King and his royal council.

June 28, 2005

Oceania Flash: http://newspad-pacific.info/ 

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