Royal Palace In Wallis Occupied To Prevent King’s Enthronement

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Disagreement over who should become Lavalua leads to occupation

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 14, 2016) – The royal palace of Wallis has been occupied in a bid to stop this Saturday's enthronement of a new king.

The French territory's broadcaster says dozens of people have taken over the palace to prevent Tominiko Halagahu from becoming the new Lavalua, or king.

Tominiko Halagahu, who is 57, is from a royal family traced back more than a dozen generations and well into pre-colonial times.

Last weekend, chiefs announced that he would be the king of Uvea following a two-year vacancy created by the removal of the last Lavelua, Kapeliele Faupala.

But several of the royal families say they don't recognise the chiefs' announcement.

They say it's the royal families that choose a king and the chiefs organise the enthronement and not the other way around.

Among the families opposed to the nomination is the one of Tomasi Kulimoetoke who ruled from 1959 until his death in 2007.

The French prefect administering the territory has told local media that the state won't interfere in customary matters.

Last month, the kingdom of Sigave on the island of Futuna chose Eufenio Takala as its king, ending a seven-year vacancy.

Wallis and Futuna has three traditional kingdoms recognised by the French republic.

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