The Contemporary Pacific 16.1 (2004) 169-174
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Wallis and Futuna
University of New Caledonia
In April 2002 the only Wallis and Futuna newspaper, Te Fenua Fo'ou, disappeared following a dispute between the customary chiefs of Wallis and the editorial director. A new weekly publication took over on 20 September 2002. Fenua Magazine, with the same format and columns as the preceding paper, now belongs to Samino Foloka, who works at the Department of Catholic Education of Wallis and Futuna. The editorial line has been completely changed to avoid the wrath of the great "chefferie" of Wallis. Leaders on the two islands remain very sensitive to articles published about Wallis and Futuna in the international press. An article called "AWallis, l'ennui au bout du monde" (Wallis, boredom at the ends of the earth), published in the July 2002 edition of National Geographic, spurred a local photographer to apologize in Fenua Magazine for the inaccuracies of his Australian counterpart, Tim Georgeson, whom he had hosted on Wallis.
Custom is at the heart of life on Wallis and Futuna. On 21 November 2002, a new king of Alo (Futuna) was enthroned. Fifty-five-year-old Soane Patita Maituku has for the last ten years been a sacristan, a position [End Page 169] of respect and responsibility in the Catholic church. He has ten children, one of whom is a nun in Africa and was present at the event. The Kivalu Tisimasi Heafala, prime minister of Wallis, was deposed by the Lavelua on 18 January 2003. His successor, Kamaliele Muliloto, retired from the Department of Rural Economy, was installed in Kafila two days later. On 30 May 2003, Patelisio Ikafolau, aged fifty-eight and retired from the health agency,was appointedPului'uvea, that is, minister of the customary police of Wallis island, in his village Falaleu (Hahake district).
The general elections of June 2002 were invalidated because about a hundred voters had signed with a cross without a witness countersigning. By-elections were organized in March 2003. Three candidates were in contention: (1) the outgoing minister of Parliament whose election had been invalidated, Victor Brial, of Union pour unMouvement Populaire (UMP), the majority party at the national level, formerly called the Union pour la Majorité Presidentielle (substitute for Patalione Kanimoa); (2) Penisio Tialetagi, unaffiliated (substitute for Mikaele Tui); and (3) Apeleto Likuvalu, affiliated with the left-wing UFDS party (substitute for Soakimi Polelei). Presenting the candidates, Fenua Magazine noted, "These candidates were not easy to contact, even for the local press that was supposed to represent them. Only Mr Likuvalu deigned to meet us for an interview that was very pleasant all the same. As for Victor Brial, he sent us a typed text presenting his programme. And nothing was heard from Mr Tialetagi for two weeks" (fm25,5). The first ballot, involving 9,925 registered voters, resulted in 3,413 votes (46.9 percent) for Brial, 3,276 for Tialetagi, and 587 for Likuvalu, with the latter's votes bringing about the second ballot. After the first ballot, candidate Tialetagi declared, "I have no programme. You can't establish a programme when you are not an elected representative and you haven't got any money." His campaign manager, Soane Uhila, is a former local UMP executive. Brial emphasized the privileged relationship he has with the French president, Jacques Chirac. Between the two ballots, four Caledonians of the RCPR (the local section of the UMP)—member of Parliament and president of the local government Pierre Frogier, senator and president of the Territorial Assembly Simon Louekhote,Wallisian Corinne Fuluhea (from Paita), and local government member Atelemo Taofifenua (former elected representative and former Kivalu)—came to support "their candidate."
The second ballot took place on 23 March and Brial was reelected with 4,005 votes (52 percent), compared to 3,687 for Tialetagi. The voter turnout was 78 percent (7,749 people). Economic and social adviser K Gata petitioned for annulment, which was rejected in Paris by the Constitutional Council on 16 May 2003.
In Paris, on 19 December 2002, the Constitutional Council declared...