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Protesters occupy royal palace

Friday 15 April 2016 | Published in Regional

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WALLIS – The royal palace of Wallis has been occupied in a bid to stop this Saturday’s enthronement of a new king.

The French territory’s broadcaster said dozens of people took over the palace to prevent Tominiko Halagahu from becoming the new lavalua, or king.

Tominiko Halagahu, who is 57, is from a royal family traced back more than a dozen generations and well into pre-colonial times. Last weekend, chiefs announced that he would be the king of Uvea following a two-year vacancy created by the removal of the last Lavelua, Kapeliele Faupala.

But several of the royal families say they don’t recognise the chiefs’ announcement. They say it’s the royal families that choose a king and the chiefs organise the enthronement and not the other way around.

Among the families opposed to the nomination is the one of Tomasi Kulimoetoke who ruled from 1959 until his death in 2007.

The French prefect administering the territory told local media that the state wouldn’t interfere in customary matters.

However, France has sent two police squadrons from New Caledonia to Wallis to provide security.

Last month, the kingdom of Sigave on the island of Futuna chose Eufenio Takala as its king, ending a seven-year vacancy.

Wallis and Futuna has three traditional kingdoms recognised by the French republic. - RNZI