2 Jun 2016

France poised to recognise new Wallis king

12:42 pm on 2 June 2016
The official flag of the French overseas territory of Wallis and Futuna.

The official flag of the French overseas territory of Wallis and Futuna. Photo: supplied

Reports from Wallis and Futuna say the French administration has chosen to recognise Patalione Kanimoa as the new king of Wallis.

The public broadcaster said the decision would be confirmed when the official journal was published.

The island had 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.

The prefect Marcel Renouf said the choice was in part due to judicial proceedings having 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 protest ended with the prefect assuring that the judicial process against the chiefs would be abandoned.

The president of the territorial assembly, Mika Kulimoetoke, expressed alarm at the prefect's decision, saying there was no urgency to make the move.

He also said he doubted the prefect's word that the French state wouldn't interfere in customary matters.

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.

Mata'Utu cathedral next to the Sagato Soane Palace.

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