13 Dec 2004

Cook Islands parties jockey to become the next government

2:14 pm on 13 December 2004

The two major parties in the Cook Islands are jockeying to become the next government when parliament meets in two days time.

This follows the head of state dissolving the caretaker government after the prime minister, Dr Robert Woonton, stepped down from his seat on Manihiki when a recount found that the vote between him and another candidate, equally split.

The Cook Islands Party, or CIP, can count on ten MPs, the Democratic Party has nine, there's one independent and the new Demo Tumu party has three MPs, so it's not clear who will become the prime minister and be able to form the government.

Our correspondent, Jason Brown, says the coalition between the CIP and the Demo Tumu party, which was led by Dr Woonton, may not hold.

"I mean Woonton was really the cement that held them altogether. I suppose that Woonton's grouping could go into coalition with whoever they like, really. They still hold the balance of power."

Jason Brown says the 23 MPs out of the 24 member house do not have to wait for the Manihiki by-election to be held before they can meet to elect a prime minister and form a new government.