8 May 2007

Wallis holds funeral for late king Kulimoetoke

9:34 am on 8 May 2007

The funeral is taking place today of the king of Wallis, Tomasi Kulimoetoke, who died at the age of 88.

A service is being held in the cathedral of the island capital, Mata Utu, this morning following yesterday's announcement of his passing.

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

The local administration has ordered flags to be flown at half mast and closed public services for the rest of this week in honour of the late king.

Schools will remain closed until the middle of next week.

Tomasi Kulimoetoke was chosen as the king of Uvea in 1959 and in 1961 he signed a pact with France 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 the Tomasi Kulimoetoke as the island's only traditional king.