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MINISTER WILLIAMS CONDEMNS OPPOSITION ALLIANCE, SAYS IT’S A FAKE

By Florence Syme-Buchanan

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (October 16, 1999 – Cook Islands News)--- Prime Minister Dr. Joe Williams has condemned the 15-signature Demo Alliance/New Alliance coalition agreement as a fake document and has advised the Queen's Representative to ignore it.

Dr. Williams believes the document is designed to deliberately mislead the QR and pressure Sir Apenera Short into calling Parliament into session before November 17.

The Queen’s Representative has been advised of these views and, according to the PM, they have been accepted by Sir Apenera.

Williams accuses opposition coalition leader Dr. Terepai Maoate of claiming to have 17 members in the coalition, then telling him they have 14 members and finally presenting the QR with the agreement, which contains the signatures of 15 MPs.

"Without a doubt this is a fake document," Williams said in a media release yesterday.

Williams insists that "one of those people is not an MP, that is Tiaki Wuatai. The outcome of the by election has not been decided yet. As such the seat for Pukapuka is still in limbo."

SURE SUPPORTERS

However, Dr. Maoate has maintained they have 14 MPs who are sure supporters. Also supporting the coalition is Pukapuka/Nassau MP-elect (on preliminary count) Tiaki Wuatai, giving the DAP/NAP group 15 MPs - at least until the declaratory judgment is handed down on the Pukapuka seat next week (and any other by-election related developments) which could see a swing to the Cook Islands Party.

"As far as DAP is concerned, Tiaki Wuatai was the victorious candidate after the by-election and therefore his signature is required on the document," explains Maoate.

In the PM's opinion, the coalition's newspaper advertisements and radio programs "are designed to destabilize the economy of this country, designed to mislead the business community."

He says if it's allowed to continue "then there is (a) possibility that the economy may be destabilized."

FORMER DPM

Dr. Williams asks that the business community ignore his former deputy, Norman George.

"Let us run this country together without the destabilizing influence of Norman George. Remember I say Norman George, because he is the destabilizing influence in this country."

Those claims are rejected by the coalition members, who say Williams is a "desperate man clutching onto straws to stay in office."

Maoate says to accuse them of deliberately misleading the QR is "abhorrent." He added the coalition has cautioned the QR over the employment of more public servants and funding MP's travel because "it was necessary to issue such cautions to prevent unnecessary expenditure under the circumstance of a prime minister governing without a mandate."

QUESTIONS

Dr. Williams has not answered Cook Islands News questions on what restraints his government will observe between now and November 17th regarding government spending, overseas travel, new policy initiatives or new appointments or sackings.

Maoate has challenged Williams "to prove that he has the support of the other CIP members that he claims are behind him." Maoate stresses that with only two Cabinet Ministers in Rarotonga - "Cabinet is in hiatus because there is no quorum for it to hold any meetings."

"This is a crisis situation when the everyday decision making body of government cannot make decisions at this moment."

DEADLINE

Maoate pointed out that an example of government being paralyzed because of a non-functioning Cabinet occurred several weeks ago.

"Cabinet did not meet a deadline to the New Zealand government over favorable airline services to the Cook Islands. By the time our Cabinet met, the New Zealand government had dissolved preparations for the upcoming general elections there."

The new coalition reiterated its demands for Dr. Williams to step down, "that way he retains some dignity."

 

WHAT WENT ON: LOOKING BACK ON THE PAST FEW WEEKS

JULY 28: The NAP and CIP sign an agreement on July 28 to enter into a coalition relationship. Sir Geoffrey resigns as CIP leader and Dr. Joseph Williams steps in.

JULY 29: Dr. Williams is confirmed as the country's new Prime Minister. Norman George retains the post of Deputy Prime Minister

EARLY AUGUST: CIP leader Sir Geoffrey Henry, CIP President Henry Puna and legal counsel Tina Browne met with DAP leader Terepai Maoate, Wilkie Rasmussen and their lawyer Mike Mitchell, at the latter's office, about August 2 - five days after the NAP entered into a coalition agreement with the CIP camp under its new leader, Dr. Joseph Williams. In correspondence sighted by CINews, it is understood that no agreement was signed.

SEPTEMBER 7: George catches wind of Sir Geoffrey's 'secret' meeting and meets DAP leader Dr. Terepai Maoate for the first time.

SEPTEMBER 8: Parliament wraps up its debate on the budget but not before George allegedly receives a note from the DAP MPs asking him to move a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Dr. Williams, who left for Auckland. Sir Geoffrey suggests Maoate pass a motion of confidence in himself as PM. Maoate and Dr. Woonton reject Sir Geoff's proposal. Sir Geoff claims to have 10 MP's behind him - the DAP's later discover he only has two, himself and Aitutaki MP Teina Bishop.

SEPTEMBER 9: George leaves for Macau, China for a World Health Organization conference.

SEPTEMBER 15: Teina Bishop flies across to Mauke to try to persuade DAP MP Mapu Taia to cross the floor and join the ranks of the CIP/NAP coalition government.

SEPTEMBER 29: The Pukapuka/Nassau by-election is held - DAP's Tiaki Wuatai leads the incumbent CIP candidate Inatio Akaruru by 217 votes to 215.

OCTOBER 4: DAP/NAP deal sealed with the signing of coalition agreement. NAP MP Albert Nicholas meets with Norman George in his office on Monday, October 4 and was asked to sign the DAP/NAP agreement. Nicholas says others present at the meeting were DAP's Wilkie Rasmussen, George Pitt and Arthur Taripo.

OCTOBER 7: The Crown Law office ask the court for a judgment to determine whether 21 declaratory votes cast in the Pukapuka/Nassau by-election are valid or not.

OCTOBER 12: Dr. Williams sacks George and fellow NAP MP Jim Marurai from Cabinet. Immediately after George and Dr. Maoate issue a joint statement saying that the DAP and NAP will form a coalition government, and call on Dr. Williams to step down as Prime Minister.

The NAP executive meet and formally cuts ties with the CIP coalition government.

[Shortly after 2.30pm: Former DPM Norman George leaves the PM's Office in what looks like a huff after his and colleague Jim Marurai's dismissal from Cabinet.

Dr. Williams tells reporters that the political side-play in government had to be stopped and that the public must know "precisely what is happening."

He said the public must agree that anyone holding a post in the government and at the same time planning the downfall of that institution had to be dismissed for the sake of stability.

The PM told CINews that until November 17th he will be taking on the workload of Deputy Prime Minister as well.

Dissention reported in the ranks of the NAP executive committee during a meeting Tuesday night. Secretary General Pipi Elia said to have resigned.

Moana Moeka'a/Mona Matepi

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