5 Nov 2003

Cook Islands Parliament debates Deputy Prime Minister's call for early election

4:23 pm on 5 November 2003

Cook Islands parliament is in chaos this afternoon as debate rages over a motion from the deputy prime minister that an early general election be called.

Dr Terepai Maoate is accusing the government of financial mismanagement, saying that decision-making at the highest level has been burdened by hypocrisy, greed and self-interest.

Dr Maoate then moved that an early election be held.

The Speaker, Sir Pupuke Robati, announced he was suspending parliament for several days while he sought legal advice on what he described as the "unprecedented" action by the deputy prime minister.

But two hours later Sir Pupuke recalled MPs to debate the motion.

Opposition MPs are supporting Dr Maoate, saying a debate on an early election should take place today.

But the prime minister and his supporters say the Speaker's action in telling MPs they had a week to give the matter consideration, and then calling them back to debate it within hours, is unfair.