14 Apr 2006

Cook Islands PM rejects push by Opposition Leader to drop a coalition partner

4:05 pm on 14 April 2006

The Cook Islands Prime Minister Jim Marurai says an attempt to bring down his government by the leader of the opposition was delivered to him as three options.

Sir Geoffrey Henry, the leader of the opposition Cook Islands Party, visited Mr Marurai this week and demanded that the majority in the government coalition, the party of Terepai Maoate, be removed.

Sir Geoffrey, who claims to have the support of 15 MPs out of the 24-member parliament, said the Prime Minister should either sack the coalition partners, have parliament reconvened for a motion of no-confidence, or step down himself.

But Mr Marurai, who insists the house is split at 12 members each, says Sir Geoffrey is trying to get himself into government before parliament meets in June.

"He argued that if we have to go to Parliament the budget will be defeated, and I said if that is the case then there will be a general election. I don't think he wants to go into a general election, for which there is no budget as is appropriate. So I think the onus will be on him to push us that way."