CHANGE OF GOVERNMENT EXPECTED IN COOK ISLANDS TODAY

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (November 17, 1999 – Radio Australia)---A month-long political standoff in the Cook Islands is expected to be resolved today, when Parliament resumes in Rarotonga.

Radio Australia Pacific correspondent Kevin McQuillan reports that the opposition believes it has the numbers to topple the five-month government of Dr. Joe Williams.

"Since two Cabinet ministers defected to the opposition after being sacked by Dr. Williams for alleged disloyalty four weeks ago, the opposition has continually called on the Prime Minister to resign.

"But Dr. Williams has resisted those calls, asking firstly for a fresh election and then promoting a government of national unity, proposals rejected by the Queen's Representative, Sir Apenera Short, and the opposition.

"Last week, Dr. Williams appointed two new Cabinet ministers, including former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Henry, in a desperate attempt to attract broader, much needed support.

"Opposition leader Dr. Terepai Maoate says he has the support of 14 MPs in the 25 seat Parliament, and is confident of winning today's no confidence motion."

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

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