COOK ISLANDS PARTY SOUL SEARCHING LEADS TO OVERHAUL

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By Florence Syme-Buchanan

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (March 24, 2000 – Cook Islands News)---The Cook Islands Party has done some serious "soul-searching" to the point of asking whether they lost traditional seats because they didn’t have the right candidates.

The opposition party, once the most powerful faction in the country, is to undergo a major overhaul and the party structure, constitution, candidate selection process will come under the magnifying glass of specially selected committees.

REDEFINING

All this will be done "with the view of redefining the party to modern day trends and recognizing the fact that times have changed," says leader Sir Geoffrey Henry.

Sir Geoff retains overall CIP backing as leader, but there could be undercurrents of discontent from some who want a leadership change.

It was proposed during this week’s "hui" by MP Tupou Faireka that the CIP leadership term be limited and also those of Members of Parliament.

Faireka, a former Minister, experienced eight days as deputy prime minister during Dr. Joe Williams’ short-lived and controversial prime ministership.

WOMEN

Women presenters at the "hui" also expressed "powerful views that women aren’t involved enough in the decision making process," Sir Geoff told CINews.

One of those presenters, Vira Tavioni Bachmann, says for too long the party has disregarded the views of women at the grassroots, regarding them only as useful for "tunu kai" (cooking).

"We have knowledge but people up there don’t listen to the women. We too vote governments in.

Bachmann says since the "hui" CIP women have had a chance to say what they think and that will improve things within the party. "They realize their mistake. They didn’t listen to us. They didn’t listen to the people."

Bachmann believes the grassroots CIP women need to have training in political strategy. "I’ve been a CIP all my life, but no one actually explained anything to me."

The party, founded by Albert Henry, the man who pushed for self-governing back in the early sixties, has had to do some serious self-reckoning, a process that leader Sir Geoff says was difficult and "very moving."

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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