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The Contemporary Pacific 15.1 (2003) 192-195

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Wallis and Futuna

Frédéric Angleviel
University of New Caledonia

On 29 November 2001, French Overseas Secretary of State Christian Paul went to Wallis, where he declared: "I intend that the assistance of France shall not slacken." He confirmed the future opening of a vocational training center and the future implementation of a statute for members of parliament. He proposed the creation of a development council made up of all the local decision makers. In December, it was Didier Quentin, overseas secretary-general of the Rassemblement pour la République (RPR), and Pierre Frogier, president of the government of New Caledonia (of the party, Rassemblement pour La Calédonie dans la République [RPCR]), who went to Wallis to take their turn in preparing for the upcoming elections. The signing of the special agreement between the French Overseas Territory of Wallis and Futuna and the French Overseas Country of New Caledonia was once again postponed. In the meantime a guidance document on economic development was signed in Paris on 22 January 2002 between the state and the territory in the presence of customary leaders. This document was to be followed by a program contract along with a significant financial initiative.

The year 2002 was significant on the electoral level. First, the election in a single ballot of the twenty territorial advisers took place on 10 March. Thirty-two lists, bringing together a total of 134 candidates, were submitted to 9,353 voters. Of those eligible, 82.7 percent voted. Spoiled ballot papers accounted for 0.75 percent, and 9.8 percent were proxy votes. The elections yielded a right-wing majority affiliated to the national RPR party. On 26 March, Patalione Kanimoa was reelected president of the territorial parliament by 12 votes to 7, with one member absent for health reasons. The opposition unified for the election of the committee of the territorial parliament, in spite of the fact that it included as many right-wing personalities (eg, Soane Uhila) as left-wing elected officials (eg, Donald Mercier).

The 5 May 2002 election of Jacques Chirac as president of the French Republic facilitated the reelection of the RPR member of parliament of Wallis and Futuna. At the time of the parliamentary elections in June, outgoing Deputy Victor Brial was opposed by four other candidates. His two main opponents (Soane Uhila and Kamilo Gata) did not come forward as candidates, but they supported Penisio Tialetagi, a tradesman whose campaign speech privileged the personalization [End Page 192] of the ("anti-Brialism") debate. Brial, the candidate of the Union pour la Majorité Presidentielle (UMP), benefited in the second ballot from the partial transfer of Apeleto Likuvalu's votes, although he only won by 58 votes. For the first time, Gaston Lutui, a Wallisian known for his very diverse political career, came forward as candidate for the National Front (FN), an extreme right-wing national party. However, he did not manage to capitalize on the 492 votes that had gone to the national leader of this party at the time of the presidential election.

With regard to New Caledonia, the political authorities of Wallis and Futuna consider that the expatriate community must be especially careful and discrete. Under the care of the Rassemblement Démocratique Océanien (RDO), a party affiliated to the Front de Libération Nationale Kanak Socialiste (FLNKS), and with the participation of a socialist party executive from France, a day of reflection in August 2001 brought together about sixty young Caledonians of Wallisian and Futunian origin. On 11 October, about fifteen Caledonian pupils of Wallisian and Futunian origin destroyed the office of the headmaster of a Catholic technical school in Bourail. Indeed, at the end of August abusive graffiti by young people from a nearby tribe had called for the departure of this community. The culprits were not punished. Thanks to the arrival of Wallis and Futuna's senator, calm returned after a customary ceremony of forgiveness.

On 13 November 2001, another problem arose in Saint-Louis: young Wallisian and Futunians set up road blocks following the...