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  • Wallis and Futuna
  • Hapakuke Pierre Leleivai (bio)

The 2011 Territorial Day in Wallis and Futuna was very unusual. On the 29th of July, Wallisians and Futunans celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of their becoming French citizens. Feasts and cultural exhibitions were performed on both islands on 28 and 29 July. Marie-Luce Penchard, who was the Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP) minister of Overseas France at that time, traveled to Wallis and Futuna to attend the celebrations. Other political personalities who took part in the event included Harold Martin, president of New Caledonia, and representatives of the Wallisian and Futunan diaspora in that country. As a reminder of the ancestral links between Wallis Island (East Uvea Island) and the island of Ouvéa (West Uvea Island) in the Loyalty Islands of New Caledonia, members of Chief Nekelo's clan also [End Page 183] made the trip, accompanied by Marie-Claude Tjibaou. Richard Marles, the Australian parliamentary secretary for Pacific Island affairs, was also among the guests.

In the field of digital telecommunications, the whole territory was to switch entirely to digital television service on 27 September 2011, a transition that was completed only in November due to defective technical equipment in a few households.

From 4 to 7 October, the main labor unions held demonstrations. The aim was to bring to the attention of the superior administrator the expensive cost of living. Both sides came to an agreement on 28 November with the creation of the Social and Economic Consultative Committee. This new office, in cooperation with the price-monitoring committee established in June 2009, has the responsibility of shaping propositions regarding economic and social issues in the territory.

In mid-October, the Royal Council and a few territorial assembly members sought to increase the territory's ownership in the Entreprise d'eau et d'électricité de Wallis et Futuna (EEWF, the islands' power company) to 52 percent, but the EEWF denied the request.

On 3 November, in the village of Vaitupu in Hihifo District, northern Uvea Island, an EEWF worker was attacked and wounded by members of the public. On the same day, as a mark of protest, colleagues of the injured worker decided to stop working. The Royal Council called on the head of EEWF to ensure that its workers would provide at least the minimum level of service. The next morning a meeting was held at the Territorial Assembly with the prefect (the senior administrator of the territory, appointed by France), the assembly, and the Royal Council, but without any representatives of the company. The goal of the meeting was to resolve this awkward situation. On 5 November, the head of EEWF and representatives of the Electricité et Eau de Calédonie (EEC, EEWF's parent company) flew to New Caledonia. On the following Monday, Wallis Island experienced an island-wide cutoff of power and water. This uncomfortable situation led the assembly to call another meeting; this time two workers represented the EEWF, and the talks ended with an accord: The employees would resume their work, and the Royal Council would guarantee the safety of the workers. Things returned to normal on 8 November.

On 7 December, during the plenary assembly of the Territorial Council, the issue of the EEWF came back on the table. This time the Royal Council asked the company to rehire six workers who had been fired at the beginning of the conflict. The company refused.

In the New Year, one issue came up that dominated the rest of the review period: that of the elections. The election campaign was monitored by the French media authority (Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel, or CSA) and broadcast on radio and television by Wallis & Futuna Ière, previously RFO (Réseau France Outre-mer), the sole local media source. Other national channels (France 2, France 3, France 4, France 5, France Ô, Arte, and France 24) are also available in the territory. [End Page 184]

For the Territorial Assembly elections, which are conducted using a proportional representation system in multi-seat constituencies, thirty party lists contested to fill the twenty seats. Three topics dominated the debates during the campaign period. First was the high cost of...


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