3 Mar 2006

Attempt to bring down government failed, says Cooks PM

2:14 pm on 3 March 2006

The Cook Islands Prime Minister Jim Marurai says an attempt to form an alternative government by members of both the opposition and government has failed.

Both the government and opposition are claiming a majority in the 24-seat parliament after two government MPs, Piho Rua and Upoko Simpson, yesterday aligned themselves with the opposition Cook Islands Party.

However, Mr Marurai says his Cook Islands First Party, in coalition with the Democratic Party, and two new cabinet members lured from the CIP has a two-seat majority.

The Prime Minister says he was aware of moves to bring the government down in recent days...

"I had a source in the group that kept reporting to me. The idea was that Piho Rua and Simpson, join with two from the opposition to join with the Democratic Party to form a government. But that attempt has failed. That's why Piho Rua and Simpson aligned themselves with the opposition."

Jim Marurai says the developer, Tim Tepaki, and the Cook Islands' High Commissioner to New Zealand were the driving forces behind the defections.