16 Nov 2004

Cook Islands Party says its leader to be deputy PM

10:23 am on 16 November 2004

The Cook Islands party says its leader, Sir Geoffrey Henry, will be appointed the caretaker deputy prime minister today.

The party has agreed to form a coalition with a faction of the Democratic party, headed by the caretaker prime minister, Dr Robert Woonton.

The CIP's president, Henry Puna, says Sir Geoffrey's appointment will be announced despite the fact that the Appeal court is yet to deliver a verdict for several electoral challenges.

Mr Puna says the coalition deal, which leaves most of the Democratic party out in the cold, is intended to provide stability to the country.

"The new arrangement is a reflection of our desire to get on, and get on with the business of government. The Democratic party was unable to mend their internal differences, and that, in our view would have been disastrous for the country if somehow they would have been able to patch over our differences."

The Democratic party president, Makiuti Tongia, says they have sufficient numbers to be able to form a government as Dr Woonton has only one other MP with him in the coalition deal.