COOK ISLANDS OPPOSITION CLOSE TO FORMING NEW GOVERNMENT

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RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (July 28, 1999 - PACNEWS)---The Cook Islands Democratic Alliance Party has announced it now has enough votes in Parliament to form the next national coalition government.

Parliament meets Friday.

DAP leader Dr. Terepai Maoate's said the opposition party had secured the support of three members of the current ruling Cook Islands Party -- Tom Marsters, Tangata Vavia and Dr. Joe Williams -- giving it a majority of 13 votes in the 25-member Parliament.

TOUGH ECONOMIC ROAD AHEAD FOR COOK ISLANDS: MAOATE

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (July 29, 1999 – Radio Australia)---The man likely to become the Cook Islands' next Prime Minister, Dr. Terepai Maoate, says the country faces a tough economic road ahead.

The defection of three supporters of caretaker Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Henry means Dr. Maoate is almost certain to be elected PM when Parliament reconvenes on Friday.

Dr. Maoate said domestic issues such as the economy will be his primary focus once he is in the top job.

"My emphasis is I want to be home most of the time now, to tidy up what I can at home, before even looking outside for people that may be interested in helping us.

"That's my ambition at the moment.

"I think there's a lot we can do ourselves here at home and, you know, it's going to be a lot of hard work, sacrifice and that sort of thing," he said.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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