7 May 2007

King of Wallis dies aged 88

4:35 pm on 7 May 2007

The king of Wallis, Tomasi Kulimoetoke, has died at the age of 88.

The king, locally known as Lavelua, died at his residence after suffering from poor health for many years.

He stopped attending public functions last year.

The local French administration has announced his passing but given no details about the cause of death.

Tomasi Kulimoetoke was chosen in 1959 and signed a pact with France in 1961 to make Wallis and Futuna a French overseas territory.

Two years ago, rival clans tried to depose him which led to an armed rebellion by his supporters.

A French negotiator sent to Wallis to deal with a rebellion and change the French prefect's position to state that France recognised Tomasi Kulimoetoke as the island's only traditional king.

The French republic recognises two more kings in its overseas communities - both of them are on the island of Futuna.