THREATENED BOYCOTT OF RAROTONGA ELECTIONS

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RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (November 5, 1998 - Radio Australia)---The Cook Islands National Development Council has threatened to call for a boycott of this month's local government elections on Rarotonga if Cabinet doesn't defer them.

The Council wants the elections held after findings of a Political Review Commission have been made public. But Cabinet has said it's too late to stop the local government elections from going ahead on the 26th of November.

Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Henry has said the local government elections will proceed regardless.

Florence Syme-Buchanan has details:

"The local government system proposed by government is widely unpopular in Rarotonga because people see it as a waste of money and creating more levels of bureaucracy.

"The National Development Council say it's a "political folly" and appalling waste of time and money if this new political structure is set up only to find the Political Review Commission's findings recommend something completely different.

"The Political Review Commission is to table its findings and recommendations in December and local government systems are part of its mandate.

"Political observers say the government is insisting on staging Rarotonga's local body elections to gain favor with voters as new jobs will be created and hundreds of thousands of dollars in salaries.

"The Cook Islands general elections will be held in the first quarter of next year.

"Florency Syme Buchanan, Rarotonga."

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