29 Jul 2005

France defies King of Wallis and appoints alternative council of ministers

2:44 pm on 29 July 2005

France's representative on Wallis and Futuna has appointed an alternative council of ministers, in opposition to the King of Wallis.

The broadcaster RFO reports that the territory's prefect, Xavier de Fürst, has appointed six chiefs from Futuna Island as ministers.

Mr De Fürst had already suspended all sitting allowances and salaries for the King and his royal council two months ago.

Last month, opponents of the current King of Wallis, the 86-year-old Lavelua, formed a shadow government.

The appointment process raised tensions between pro and

anti-King parties, who are also mainly split along family ties, between the House of Wallis and the two other Houses of Futuna Island.

Last month, one man was seriously wounded in a clash between the new chiefs' sympathisers and backers of the King.

Lavelua is 86 years old and has ruled Wallis since 1959.