AVARUA, Rarotonga (July 30, 1999 – Radio Australia)---Dr. Joe Williams has been sworn in as the new Prime Minister of the Cook Islands.

Dr. Williams, who had defected to the opposition Democratic Alliance Party (DAP) earlier this week, returned to the government to lead it when the Cook Islands Parliament met this morning.

More from Radio Australia correspondent Sean Dorney.

"In a move similar to what Bill Skate did just weeks ago in Papua New Guinea, Sir Geoffrey Henry resigned as Prime Minister yesterday and offered the top job to somebody else to save his government.

"But, unlike Mr. Skate, Sir Geoffrey succeeded and the man he offered the leadership to, Dr. Joe Williams, has now been sworn in by the Queen's Representative as the Cook Islands new Prime Minister.

"Dr. Williams was one of three defectors from Henry's Cook Islands Party (CIP) who deserted Sir Geoffrey earlier this week intending to help the opposition DAP win power. But by resigning and offering Williams the Prime Ministership, Sir Geoffrey Henry won him back and the government survives -- led now by Dr. Williams.

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


Avarua, Rarotonga, Cook Islands July 29, 1999


It's a black day in the short history of Cook Islands politics.

After the sitting of Parliament today the country will be led by two politicians who have proved they are for sale to the highest bidder.

We will undoubtedly be told it is for 'the good of the country' but naked greed and the desire for power for its own sake are the motivating forces for our new PM and Deputy PM elect.

Even their colleagues must view them with contempt.

The rest of us feel we've been cheated.

What chance of the political reform the country is crying out for? What chance for honest, accountable, responsible government?

Precious little most people suspect, but wouldn't it be nice to be proved wrong. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the new government stated unequivocally that they were in favor of the sort of political reform that the public so clearly asked the Political Review Commission for? Wouldn't it be even nicer if they started immediately?

Then this situation would never occur again. We won't end up with a DPM whose party collected less than 14% of the vote (down from 24% in the previous election) and a PM who was not in the leadership picture during the campaign period.

Remember the CIP slogan, 'It's all about leadership'? Wasn't that Sir Geoffrey's leadership?

Surely they didn't mean a leader who lives and runs a medical practice in New Zealand and has bragged about standing for the NZ parliament in a few months time. Dr. Williams has now apparently changed his mind about the NZ parliament but if the opportunity arises would he again be for sale to the highest bidder?

For additional reports from the Cook Islands News Online, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Cook Islands New Online.

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