15 Dec 2004

Cook Islands to get new prime minister

10:14 am on 15 December 2004

The Cook Islands parliament is to meet today for the first time since the elections in September to elect a new prime minister and form a new government.

The Cook Islands Party, or the CIP, and the Democratic party, are jockeying for power and are reported to be considering holding discussions with each other, while both have held talks with the new Demo Tumu party which holds the balance of power.

There is an existing coalition arrangement between the CIP and the Demo Tumu party which gives them a combined thirteen seats out of the 24.

But, the CIP president, Henry Puna, indicated that a grand coalition between the CIP and the Democratic party, is not being ruled out.

"We're open to discussion with anybody, including Dr Maoate, if the approach is made to the Cook Islands Party. But, we need to be upfront about it because we have an arrangement with our current coalition partners. So, I can assure you it will not be a clandestine meeting."

Mr Puna says parliament meets later this morning and a decision on the new prime minister and the formation of the new government will be known shortly after that.