7 Jan 2005

Former Cook Islands PM not contesting Manihiki by-election for personal reasons

3:28 pm on 7 January 2005

The former prime minister of the Cook Islands, Dr Robert Woonton says he will not be contesting a by-election in the seat of Manihiki for personal reasons.

The by-election is to be held next month after Dr Woonton's win in the September general election was overturned by the courts.

He says if he did stand in the by-election, the fact that he's no longer the prime minister would effect the outcome.

Meanwhile Dr Woonton says he should hear in the next couple of days if he has landed the job as the country's high commissioner to New Zealand which, he says, will enable him to spend more time with his family.

"Two of my kids are studying in New Zealand in school, one is in university and one is in college, and I have only one son and I want to be close to him. My wife is from New Zealand and she felt that she's done 21 years in my island and it's about time I come to her island."

The former prime minister of the Cook Islands, Dr Robert Woonton.

The Democratic Party has named the businessman Apii Piho as its candidate for the by-election.

Mr Piho is a former chairman of the Democratic Party in Manihiki.

The Cook Islands Party president Henry Puna has already filed his nomination to stand in the by-election.