18 Nov 2004

Former Cooks cabinet minister says PM breaching party rules

9:25 am on 18 November 2004

A former Cook Islands Democratic Party Cabinet Minister, Tagata Vavia, says the Prime Minister, Dr Robert Woonton, has gone against the party's policy to govern as a majority.

The leader of the Cook Islands Party, Sir Geoffrey Henry, and his colleague Tom Marsters, were sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister, and minister respectively yesterday.

This was under a deal reached with Dr Woonton who's leading a breakaway faction of the Democratic Party.

Mr Vavia says coalitions have never been popular with the people of the Cook Islands.

"They're sick of coalitions, it made a lot of people get frustrated and the Democratic has stuck to the policy that they should win majority in government, as a majority. So I'm surprised with the move that Dr Woonton has taken."

Meanwhile, the only independent Cook Islands MP, Piho Rua, who's currently in New Zealand with Mr Vavia to observe Parliament, believes the new coalition is jumping the gun.

He says there are still several electoral challenges to be determined by the courts which could change the final outcome.

And Mr Rua says he won't be making a decision about which side he'll join until the court cases have been resolved.