11 Oct 2016

France bans demonstrations on Wallis

3:47 pm on 11 October 2016
Mata'Utu cathedral next to the Sagato Soane Palace.

Mata'Utu cathedral next to the Sagato Soane Palace. Photo: RNZI / Vinnie Wylie

The French prefect of Wallis and Futuna has banned public demonstrations island-wide on Wallis today to contain tension between rival clans claiming the royal title.

In a statement, Marcel Renouf said there was a heightened risk of serious trouble with public order.

This coincides with a court case being heard, challenging the administration over its decision to recognise one side.

One report says 100 people are outside the court.

The island has two kings since mid-April when the installation of Tominiko Halagahu was followed by a meeting of a rival council of chiefs which made Patalione Kanimoa the new king.

In June, however, Mr Renouf only acknowledged Patalione Kanimoa in part because judicial proceedings had opened against some chiefs and Tominiko Halagahu for their role in last year's 11-day blockade of the territory's international airport over an employment dispute.

The blockade ended with the prefect assuring that the judicial process against the chiefs would be abandoned.

The president of the territorial assembly, Mika Kulimoetoke, expressed concern that the prefect interfered in matters of custom.

A king and the chiefs are part of the territorial administration and on the payroll of the French republic.

Neighbouring Futuna has two kingdoms recognised by the French republic.

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Photo: AFP