7 Nov 2003

Cook Islands no confidence motion dropped to avoid confusion

11:57 am on 7 November 2003

Dr Terepai Maoate, who until yesterday was Deputy Prime Minister in Cook Islands, says he dropped a motion of no confidence in the government to avoid confusing his party members.

Dr Maoate and the justice minister Tangata Vavia resigned yesterday following the motion in which Dr Maoate condemned the Government's financial performance.

He also called for an early election.

Dr Maoate says his Democratic Party was willing to pursue the motion, though two members voted against it.

And he says the motion had also created an impression that the Democrats were drawing closer to the official Opposition party, the Cook Islands Party.

"So as a result of that impression, I felt that even though we still have the numbers to pursue I decided it's probably not going to do the party any good, especially in the outer islands, because it would only create more confusion to them. However, the message of an early election that I have put forward into support of this motion has been expresed very well."

Despite his call, Dr Maoate says there is no indication that there will be an early election.

Meanwhile, Cook Islands prime minister, Dr Robert Woonton, made political history by announcing that Dr Maoate would be replaced as deputy prime minister by Ngamau Munokoa, the first Cook Islands woman to hold the post

Our correspondent in Rarotonga, Florence Syme Buchanan, says Ngamau Munokoa is an experienced politician.

She has served at least three terms now. She has held portfolios in the past. She has staunchly stood by the Democratic Party. She has said she will never cross the floor and she is a woman who keeps her word.