8 Mar 2006

Cooks' mission in New Zealand can't confirm or deny report head has been sacked

9:27 am on 8 March 2006

The Cook Islands High Commission in Wellington can neither confirm nor deny a report the head of the mission has been sacked.

The New Zealand Herald reports Dr Robert Woonton has been sacked for purportedly being involved in a plot to unseat the prime minister Jim Marurai.

The newspaper reports Dr Woonton has been given three weeks to vacate his office.

An official at the High Commission says she's been instructed by the minister of foreign affairs in Rarotonga not to say anything about the report.

Mr Marurai said last week that Dr Woonton had been involved in attempts to bring his government down.

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

The foreign minister Wilkie Rasmussen wasn't available for comment.