30 Dec 2009

Incoming Cooks Minister says changes needed after Toagate fiasco

4:43 pm on 30 December 2009

One of the new Cabinet Ministers in the Cook Islands, Wilkie Rasmussen, said the three replacements put conditions in place before agreeing to the reshuffle.

The changes came about after the Prime Minister, Jim Marurai, dumped his deputy, Sir Terepai Maoate, blaming him for the fiasco surrounding the failed bid to buy the Toa fuel tank farm.

Mr Rasmussen, who was himself sacked in July, says he has returned to the Cabinet as a package of three after falling out over the so-called Toagate affair:

"Now I have been the strongest advocate against and my two colleagues stood with me throughout that time and in that sense a government will not be formed without the three of us at the moment. We agreed on condition that there are certain things that need to be done, so I would say then it's an agreement of sorts between myself, my two colleagues and Cabinet and the Prime Minister to work through a government for the benefit of the Cook Islands people."

Mr Rasmussen says the conditions include transparency and caution over taking on huge loans, such as some of those that have been agreed with China.

He says many things are still to be finalised, including portfolios and he expected talks with the Prime Minister and the ruling Democratic Party in the next week or so