9 May 2007

No new king in Wallis for six months

6:03 pm on 9 May 2007

The chiefly clans on the island of Wallis have announced that for six months no king will be appointed to succeed the late monarch, Tomasi Kulimoetoke, who died aged 88 after a long illness.

The traditional chief minister said at the king's funeral yesterday that clans on the island would observe a six-month mourning period, during which it would be taboo to mention the highly sensitive topic of a successor.

Two years ago, rival clans with the backing of France tried to replace the king, or lavelua, but his supporters staged a successful armed rebellion to keep him in power.

Tomasi Kulimoetoke was chosen in 1959 and two years later signed a pact with France to make Wallis and Futuna a French Overseas Territory.

The Catholic bishop in Wallis says the king and his ministers are God's servants.

He has asked the Holy Spirit to provide inspiration to those who will have to make a choice for a succession.