28 Sep 2005

Wallisian leader in Noumea chides French role in Wallis crisis

7:41 pm on 28 September 2005

A Wallisian leader in New Caledonia says the French state has given in to terrorist methods when it decided to recognise the traditional king as the island's only ruler.

Armed backers of the king, the Lavelua Tomasi Kulimoetoke, paralysed Wallis for several days to thwart an attempt by a rival pro-reformist clan to install a new king.

France has withdrawn its recognition of the clan opposed to the 86-year-old king but Tino Manuohalalo, a former health minister of New Caledonia, says this has not solved the problem.

"The state has preferred to disavow its local representative, that is the prefect, and given in to those who used terrorist methods, like blockades, rifles and dynamite. For me and the group I represent the French state has not played its proper role."

Tino Manuohalalo says giving to the threat of force is not a long-term solution and fails to take into account the aspirations of the pro-reform supporters.