POLITICAL STANDOFF IN NEW CALEDONIA

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NOUMÉA, New Caledonia (October 18, 2001 – Radio Australia)---There's a new political standoff in New Caledonia

This follows a ruling by the French State Council in Paris, stripping the pro-independence umbrella group, the FLNKS, of one of its three positions in New Caledonia's Cabinet.

As Radio Australia correspondent Sean Dorney reports, the FLNKS has instructed its two remaining Ministers, one of whom is the Vice President, to boycott executive meetings.

"In April this year, New Caledonia's Congress elected a new government following the decision by the territory's first President to step down to concentrate on his other job, being Mayor of Nouméa.

"The outcome was that the anti-independence party, the RPCR, retained the Presidency but the pro-Independence FLNKS improved its position.

"The vote for the eleventh and final position on the executive was a tie and the FLNKS took it at the expense of another Kanak party, the FCCI, which is aligned with the RPCR.

"Dewe Gorodey of the FLNKS was then elected Vice President in the power-sharing government provided for under the Nouméa Accord.

"However, the FCCI has mounted a successful challenge before the French State Council which has ruled that the tie should have been resolved the other way, with the FCCI getting the position, not the FLNKS.

"The FLNKS is angry, saying it will consider pulling out of the government altogether at a meeting on November the 17th.

"Sean Dorney, Radio Australia."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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