COOK ISLANDS PM WILLIAMS NOT RUNNING IN NEW ZEALAND ELECTIONS

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By Alex Sword

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (September 27, 1999 – Cook Islands News)---Prime Minister Dr. Joe Williams will not be running in the New Zealand parliamentary elections this November.

Dr. Williams last night told Cook Islands News that speculation by Democratic Alliance Party spokesman Wilkie Rasmussen that he (Williams) would be running for the Mauri Pacific Party of Tau Henare was "out of the question."

The Prime Minister said he has sworn allegiance to one parliament and that's the Cook Islands one.

However, Dr. Williams also pointed out that, as he has mentioned previously to the media, before he became Prime Minister he was approached with an offer to stand in the New Zealand elections for Otara. He did not make a commitment then and this time around maintains that he certainly isn't standing for New Zealand, and intends to remain in the Cook Islands parliament for the next five years at least, and that Rasmussen should accept that.

DECLARATORY

Rasmussen last night told CINews that the DAP plans to file in the Cook Islands High Court an application for a declaratory judgment on Dr. Williams' qualification as a candidate in the Cook Islands' last general election (June 16 1999).

The DAP spokesman said investigations so far reveal that the last time Dr. Williams could have qualified under the three-month residential requirement of the Electoral Act was in 1994.

However. Dr. Williams told CINews, "I was resident in the Cook Islands up until the time required."

The Prime Minister said for Rasmussen to say he didn't qualify for the Overseas seat is not true.

He said the DAP were just speculating for the sake of speculation.

DUMP

Rasmussen last night claimed that Dr. Williams may dump his prime ministership to run as a candidate in the coming New Zealand elections and the announcement made last Friday by NZ PM Jenny Shipley of the NZ general elections in November could force Dr Williams's hand.

The DAP spokesman said Dr. Williams was a hot prospect for the Tau Henare-led Mauri Pacific Party, a party proclaiming to be the political flagship for Maori and Pacific Islands people in New Zealand.

Rasmussen said that party has recruited a number of high profile Pacific Islanders, including Dr. Williams, and that the PM's affiliation with Mauri Pacific was bolstered by his continuous contacts with Mauri Pacific MP Tuku Morgan.

"Our NZ sources say that Dr. Williams is a frontrunner for the Mangere or Otara electorates because of the high number of Cook Islanders in those areas," Rasmussen said.

He said that before Dr. Williams reneged on his agreement to form a coalition with the DAP, Dr. Williams revealed to the DAP his plan to become the first Cook Islander to win a seat in the NZ Parliament.

"We believe that Dr. Williams has kept that option alive and will take it as he is increasingly becoming a CIP (Cook Islands Party) liability and reject because of his machete wielding approach," Rasmussen said.

He said the "DAP knows that Dr. Williams is holding onto his position with a rubber band that could snap any time because the split in the CIP camp has festered into an open wound."

"Dr. Williams should not muck us about. Prolonging the inevitable of his demise hurts our nation. He should get out now and seek his glory in NZ and, with the title of PM under his belt, he should win hands down," Rasmussen said.

He said to make Dr. Williams' exit easy, the DAP plans to file in the High Court an application for a declaratory judgment on Dr. Williams's qualifications as a candidate in the Cook Islands last general elections.

Rasmussen said, "Investigations so far reveal that the last time the PM could have qualified under the three months residential requirements of the Electoral Act was in 1994."

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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