20 Sep 2005

Wallisians based in New Caledonia to challenge coronation of new king

3:31 pm on 20 September 2005

A group of Wallisians living in New Caledonia has travelled home to gather support for the King, the 86-year-old Lavelua Tomasi Kulimoetoke.

Reports say Aloisio Sako, the president of the Hihifo Wallisians' Association in New Caledonia, led the group last week to get the Wallisian community in New Caledonia to support the King.

However, a rival group of chiefs has chosen one of their own, Sosefo Mautamakia, as a new king, and he's expected to be enthroned formally at the end of this week.

Mr Sako's trip is likely to divide the Wallisian community in New Caledonia, which has met to discuss the crisis in their homeland, but until now it's essentially left the dispute to traditional authorities.

The King Lavelua Tomasi Kulimoetoke asked the French authorities to leave the territory in May after he refused to turn in a grandson to face manslaughter charges.

Rival clans in Wallis and Futuna have since been jostling for power.