17 Oct 2005

Wallisian calls for French forces to take action in territory

11:17 am on 17 October 2005

An exiled Wallisian leader and Wallisian parties in New Caledonia have called on France to send security forces to Wallis to prevent a slide into anarchy and despotism.

This comes three weeks after a French negotiator gave in to the king's armed supporters who had blockaded key roads and vandalised the airport in a successful bid to prevent the installation of a new king.

In a letter sent from Noumea to President Jacques Chirac, Kolovisi Logologofolau says tension on Wallis has not eased as a minority of armed supporters loyal to the 86-year-old king keeps terrorising the population, including non-Wallisians.

Mr Logologofolau, a former assembly president and now head of a rival administration, has likened the situation to that in the former Yugoslavia and accused the French government of failing to assist a people at risk.

He says he is in exile because his property has been burnt and he wants to know how France will move against the king's armed backers who he says are made up of retired French soldiers of Wallisian origin.

He says he is distressed to see that France has begun to abandon Wallis.

Meanwhile, the Wallisian parties in Noumea have issued a statement, saying that in the absence of proof to the contrary, Wallis is still a French territory.

They say this means that the French state has to assume its responsibilities and end its indifference while pretending to show respect for local traditions.

They say talks need to be held to overcome the institutional crisis on Wallis.