4 Jun 2010

New leadership for Cook Islands Democratic Party

7:42 am on 4 June 2010

It's not yet clear whether the election of a new leadership will resolve a rift in the Cook Islands Democratic Party.

The party has been split since last year but at its conference yesterday new office holders were named, with Deputy Prime Minister, Robert Wigmore becoming leader, defeating the incumbent, Sir Terepai Maoate, in a close vote.

Mr Wigmore is one of six members who'd been suspended from the party by a faction led by Sir Terepai, and which joined the Opposition, threatening to topple the Government of Jim Marurai.

The new deputy leader is the Minister of Finance, Wilkie Rasmussen, who says there will be continuing discussion on whether all the party's MPs will now sit on the Government benches.

"The conference recognises all, all are one, all are united, but in terms of the particulars that will have to be negotiated in the next few days."

Wilkie Rasmussen says he is confident there's no longer a threat to Mr Marurai, who has also been reconfirmed as a member of the party.