26 Sep 2005

Calm said to have been restored on Wallis

6:48 am on 26 September 2005

French police say calm has been restored on the island of Wallis after last week's unrest that was prompted by plans to enthrone a new traditional king.

Negotations were held between rival clans on Saturday after backers of the 86-year-old ruler, the Lavelua Tomasi Kulimoetoke, set up roadblocks and forced the international airport to be closed.

The Lavelua, who has been in power since 1959, signed the agreement with France to make Wallis and Futuna a French territory which now receives about 30 million US dollars a year from Paris.

Last week's action was to prevent the coronation yesterday of a new king - the latest episode in a protracted rivalry between the island's clans.

There are no reports of arrests following the vandalism at the airport which is still closed, preventing the arrival of more security forces.

Students were sent home and the French administrator closed the public services after seeing armed men at the roadblocks.