17 Jun 2005

Clash on Wallis leaves man seriously injured

1:15 pm on 17 June 2005

A person has been seriously injured in Wallis and Futuna in clashes between supporters and opponents of the King of Wallis, Tomasi Kulimoetoke.

The French administration says an opponent of the king suffered serious wounds to his head and was taken to hospital.

The news agency AFP says about 300 people were involved in the confrontation which only ended once some elders intervened.

The clashes began after the backers of the king tried to prevent other royal families from setting up a new chiefly council.

The families have been trying to dislodge the 86-year old king after a long stand-off with the judiciary in which the king harboured his grandson in his palace to prevent him having to serve a jail sentence.

The stand-off with the judiciary ended at the beginning of the month when the grandson surrendered to police and was flown to a jail in New Caledonia.

40 police have now been flown from Noumea to Wallis as tensions between the rival clans remains high.

A French official says Wallis appears to be moving towards the installation of two rival customary institutions which he says could degenerate.