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NOUMÉA, New Caledonia (Oct. 16, 2002 - Oceania Flash)---The three pro-independence members of New Caledonia's territorial government held a press conference Monday to explain why they are still refusing to move into the cabinet's new offices, RFO's Télé-Nouvelle-Calédonie reported.

Government FLNKS (Kanak National Liberation Front) Vice-President and Kanak woman leader Déwé Gorodey said they disapprove of the new headquarters being moved into what she termed an "annex," that is "too close" to the powerful anti-independence Southern Province building.

She said the FLNKS government members wanted the territorial government to be based on "neutral grounds."

Since last week, the three-year-old old executive institution of New Caledonia has left the central Nouméa building and moved all of its offices into a new building said to be more functional.

But the three FLNKS (Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front) minority members of the government have since refused to budge.

They say they do not approve of the new seaside building, mainly because it was originally designed to be an "annex" to nearby Southern province headquarters, headed by New Caledonia's most influential figure, Jacques Lafleur.

Lafleur's RPCR party (Rally for New Caledonia within the French Republic) holds the majority (seven of the 11 seats) in the current territorial government, headed by RPCR's Pierre Frogier.

As during most of last week, removal companies were busy emptying desks and offices from the old building. All three pro-independence ministers’ office have been packed into big boxes which are still in the old building with a sign saying "Do not remove, personal effects."

In the old "Foch" building, where the three ministers chose to give their press conference, all phone and fax lines have been disconnected.

FLNKS spokesman Victor Tutugoro was also there to tell local media that his party did not wish to be "towed by RPCR."

"What we want is a government that is located on neutral grounds. This is the only way to protect the spirit of the Nouméa accord and pave the way for a real power-sharing".

The Nouméa accord was signed in 1998 between the French government, FLNKS and RPCR.

While paving the way for more autonomy in New Caledonia, with a gradual transfer of powers from metropolitan France to local authorities, it also sets out the rules of "collegiality."

The territorial government came into being in 1999, a direct consequence of the accord.

The three disgruntled FLNKS ministers have also announced they would not take part in this week's cabinet meeting on Thursday, since it is to be held in the new buildings.

However, they said it did not mean they intended to resign.

President Pierre Frogier has described the stance as meaningless and not worthy of elected people.

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