COOK ISLANDS’ NORMAN GEORGE HUNGRY FOR POWER: PAPAMAMA POKINO

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COOK ISLANDS’ NORMAN GEORGE HUNGRY FOR POWER: PAPAMAMA POKINO By Florence Syme-Buchanan RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (October 20, 1999 – Cook Islands News)---In recent times Finance Minister Papamama Pokino has been a politician who has steered clear of the media. This week, he's on the record talking about former Cabinet colleague Norman George.

By Florence Syme-Buchanan

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (

TROUBLE AHEAD

"Our supporters are happy that Norman George is no longer with us. They are happier than they were when we were in a coalition. I feel the same." And, as far as Pokino is concerned, "the Democratic Alliance Party can have him."

Pokino is predicting trouble ahead for the new coalition Opposition if the New Alliance Party (NAP) leader doesn't get his way, which includes a turn at being prime minister and holding major portfolios of finance, police and telecommunications.

The minister said George "can be a reasonable man, sometimes" and he found working with the former deputy prime minister "good. It was a good relationship as far as caucus was concerned." But Pokino added that Norman George's dismissal by the prime minister was justified because he was secretly negotiating with the Democratic Alliance Party (DAP) to swap sides in anticipation the DAP would win the Pukapuka/Nassau seat.

PROBLEM

However, George, in response, says NAP's problem was never with the Cook Islands Party (CIP), Prime Minister Joe Williams or the caucus.

NAP's problem lay with Sir Geoffrey Henry and CIP President Henry Puna "for breaking our coalition agreement twice by arranging a separate coalition deal with DAP."

"We very much regret having to do what we did, but political reality is you cannot work with people who break deals."

According to George, the PM tried to dissuade him from joining the Opposition last Tuesday - "but after I advised him that our deal with DAP was final and irrevocable, the tune then changed."

He denies making demands for senior portfolios and says Pokino is "well known to go off the rails under stress, so I am assuming that the lashing I am getting is from a bitter and twisted man."

OPPORTUNITIES

Pokino predicts the new coalition relationship will come to a head because of George's "biggest weakness, his hunger for power."

"I've never come across any politician so obsessed with power. Look at Terepai, Geoff and Joe. Sure they will angle for it, but they are not as hungry as Norman. He will do anything to get that power. He will die without it."

George responds that he's had "many opportunities to unleash my vast arsenal of power hungriness. Because I never had it, I was content to turn down much more power and lucrative offers, to settle for being deputy to the man with the larger and stronger party, in DAP."

He brushes aside Pokino's statements saying, "No one takes this particular Minister seriously."

Describing the latter as Minister Casanova "with little public support," George says he prefers to be attacked by Pokino, as praise would "hurt my growing public support and image."

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

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