1 Dec 2004

Cook Islands prime minister forms new party

3:34 pm on 1 December 2004

The Cook Islands Prime Minister Dr Robert Woonton and his faction from within the Democratic party MPs have broken away to form a new party.

It will be called the Demo Party Tumu.

The move follows last week's expulsion of Dr Woonton and the health minister, Peri Vaevae Pare, from the Democratic Party, which is led by Dr Terepai Maoate.

The new party also includes the education minister, Jim Marurai, the MP for the Atiu constituency of Teenui/Mapumai, Poko Simpson and Piho Rua, whose election win in Rakahanga is subject to a petition.

Dr Woonton is leader of the new party and Mr Marurai his deputy.

Dr Woonton says the agriculture minister, Robert Wigmore, who is on an official visit to China, may also join the new party.

He says they formed the party because the MPs were deprived of their right to choose their party leader after the Democratic Party amended the constitution.