The Contemporary Pacific 14.1 (2002) 238-242
[Access article in PDF]
Polynesia in Review:
Issues and Events, 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001
Wallis and Futuna
University of New Caledonia
The main subject of political discussion remains the special agreement, yet to be signed, between the French Overseas Territory of Wallis and Futuna and the French Overseas Country of New Caledonia. The Wallis and Futuna representatives, aware that Caledonian representatives want all possible measures taken to decrease Polynesian immigration, are asking the French state for accompanying measures to facilitate local development. At the same time, they are pushing young people to emigrate to metropolitan France. The president of the territorial assembly, Soane Uhila, declared on 4 August 2000: "Training must be made a priority and our Wallisians and Futunians heading elsewhere must be told the truth. If they have the opportunity to find a way of making a home for themselves somewhere else, I advise them to go ahead." In October 2000, during the anticipated visit of a three-member [End Page 238] delegation from the Caledonian government, access to employment for the immigrants of tomorrow and conditions for granting them Caledonian citizenship were discussed. The two Caledonian parties that signed the Noumea Accord--Front de Libération Nationale Kanak Socialiste, or flnks (for political reasons) and Rassemblement Pour La Calédonie dans la République, or rpcr (for reasons related to qualification levels)--agreed that future Wallisian and Futunian immigrants should no longer enjoy the same advantages as before, even though New Caledonian law provides only for positive discrimination. More radical still, the Union for Wallis and Futuna party (UPFW), related to the Socialist party in France, insists that planning for the return of the expatriates must be done now. For party president Pesamino Fihipalai, the equation is simple: "The massive arrival of several thousand people in the archipelago will force the State and its political leaders to take immediate measures to accelerate economic development." (Te Fenua Fo'ou, 20 Oct 2000). French Overseas Minister Christian Paul, who came for a short visit, declared on 23 October that it was necessary "that we determine the activities likely to create jobs; the State cannot take the place of local decision-makers." At the same time, he specified that the Research Institute for Development had been authorized by the state to study "all proposals for a true course of action in view of the creation of activities generating employment."
Four projects were proposed to address the problem of the interisland sea service, the second most important economic policy issue. The ferry-building project of the semi-public company Société d'Exploitation du Ferry Wallis et Futuna, supported by the two constituencies of Futuna, was finally adopted.
In local politics, the surprise election of the sitting vice president of the territorial assembly, Patalione Kanimoa (independent), as president, led to a reconstruction of political forces. The outgoing president, Soane Uhila (independent), had decided to run again, with a new vice president and with the help of the UPFW. The administrative staff of the Rassemblement Pour la République (RPR) was unable to accept the disappearance of its majority (14 out of 20), P Kanimoa and Deputy V Brial set up a new alliance between the majority of the former RPR-independents alliance (8 of 14 elected representatives) and the majority of the elected representatives of the UPFW (4 of 6). The new committee now includes as its president P Kanimoa (independent, 12 votes), as its vice president Pascal Niutoua (independent), first secretary Vetelino Nau (upwf), and second secretary Michel Lataiuvea (RPR). Soane Uhila and five other council members thus created a new party: The Voice of the People of Wallis and Futuna--Union of Democrats, le'o Uvea mo Futuna. The new majority, made up of two parties in opposition in metropolitan France, was consoled by the election of the new permanent commission on 16 February, with president Apeleto Likuvalu (upwf) and secretary Bernadette Papilio (RPR) each obtaining 16 votes.
As usual, political and administrative relations between Wallis and Futuna are not very good, leading the...