20 Mar 2006

Futuna representatives told the island will become a sub-prefecture

10:23 am on 20 March 2006

Leaders from the French Pacific island of Futuna say the French president Jacques Chirac has promised them that the island is to become a sub-prefecture.

This comes after Futuna's two kings had a 90-minute meeting with Mr

Chirac in Paris following talks with the prime minister, Dominique

de Villepin, and the overseas territories minister, Francois


The two kings were accompanied by the Futuna assembly president and

the territory's two representatives in the French legislature.

The Futuna delegation has called for better shipping and air links

to the neighbouring island of Wallis which has an international


Futuna has a population of about 5,000 and chooses new kings about

every four years.

On Wallis, the current king has been in power since 1959.

A French-backed attempt to replace him last year prompted an armed

rebellion by his backers and forced France to reconfirm his status.