5 Feb 2003

Cook Islands deputy PM wants strong party for elections

6:11 pm on 5 February 2003

The deputy prime minister of the Cook Islands, Dr Terepai Maoate, says the Democratic party re-merged to be as strong a choice as possible at the elections.

He says the initiative for the merger, which led to the sixth government in four years, came from the prime minister, Dr Robert Woonton.

Dr Maoate says both factions realised it was important to be together in order to win the elections.

"Our experience of the past two elections for us were dissastrous for the party because we went in as a split party and we gave the opportunity for the Cook Islands Party to win the election and in the last one nobody won. In our experience the coalition government, that's not enjoyable, not only for people that have gone through that, but also the people are not accepting it."

Dr Maoate says he continues to support political reform and would still like to see the overseas seat abolished, another seat lost, and a reduction in the term of parliament from 5 to 3 years.