New speaker elected in the Cook Islands

Updated at 10:49 am on 15 December 2004

A former MP, Norman George, has just been elected as the new speaker of the Cook Islands parliament.

He won the vote 13 to 9 over the Democratic Party candidate, MP Mapu Taia, and there was one abstention in the secret ballot.

Mr George, who lost his seat on Atiu in the general elections, was nominated by a member of the coalition, Jim Marurai.

Our correspondent, Jason Brown, says the election of the new prime minister is expected to take place within the next hour.

He says the voting indicates that the new government is likely to be formed by the coalition of the Cook Islands Party and the Demo Tumu party.

Mr Brown says there are also indications that the new prime minister could be the Demo Tumu's Mr Marurai.

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