COOK ISLANDS OPPOSITION LAUNCHES ELECTION CAMPAIGN

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RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (May 4, 1999 - Radio Australia)---The Cook Island's opposition will launch its election campaign in Rarotonga tonight, in a bid to oust the ruling Cook Islands Party led by Sir Geoffrey Henry.

A national election will be held in early June, and the opposition believes jobs, the government's own acknowledgment of a stagnant economy and foreign debt are major concerns.

Opposition leader Dr. Terepai Maoate told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program that he wants to bring the Cooks Islands economy back from near bankruptcy.

"Our thrust," he said "will be mainly directed on the recovery of the economy."

"We want to make sure our policies will . . .stimulate the private sector," he added, "and for us to be able to pay the debts."

At the same time, Dr. Maoate said, "We will. . .look at the services we have laid down as priority areas, such as health and education."

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