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ALOFI, Niue (June 10, 2001 - Niue Economic Review/PINA Nius Online)--Niue Police have searched the home and garage of leading opposition MP Terry Coe, apparently over missing government property.

They did not execute a search warrant because Mr. Coe (59), a motor mechanic, invited them to inspect his premises at Alofi.

The MP recently instigated a move to table a vote of no confidence in Premier Sani Lakatani and his Cabinet. But he withdrew the motion last week to allow the budget to be debated.

Premier Lakatani later called Mr. Coe "a joke."

During this year Mr. Coe has clashed with the Speaker and the Premier over a number of issues and has been twice escorted from the Legislative Assembly by police.

Mr. Coe said he believed police were making inquiries about a computer, a freezer, an arc welder, battery charger and floor jack.

A New Zealander who entered politics in 1993, Mr. Coe said he believes the surprise visit by police to his property "was politically and racially motivated."

He added that he has not been charged with any offence.

He is one of the highest polling common roll members in the Legislative Assembly.

Before entering politics Mr. Coe was a training officer at the Public Works Department from 1981-84 and was principal of Niue High School from 1984-1993.

Meanwhile, proud Niueans turned out in full force to welcome visiting Cook Islands rugby representatives.

Niue's International XV headed a parade of teams down Alofi’s main street backed by the Hakupu village brass band.

Schoolchildren lined the road waving flags and banners.

The Premier and his Cabinet, and the New Zealand High Commissioner gathered at the commercial center under a large marquee with rugby union and church officials.

Acting Sport Minister Mrs. Va'ainga Tukuitoga said it was significant that the Cook Islands team was playing in Niue because it was 100 years ago that New Zealand assumed responsibility for both Niue and the Cooks.

The Cook Islands players were given a rousing welcome to an historic sporting event. It opened the door to the world of international rugby for Niue, a big island with a small population of just some 1,750.

For additional reports from the Niue Economic Review, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Magazines/Journals/Niue Economic Review.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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