NEW COOK ISLANDS COALITION "LOOKS SHAKY"

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AVARUA, Cook Islands (Nov. 13, 2002 – Radio New Zealand International)---A group of concerned citizens in the Cook Islands says it will continue to push for early elections as the fifth coalition government in less than four years looks shaky.

Elizabeth Ponga of the Group for Political Change says Prime Minister Dr. Robert Woonton, is still refusing to set a date for early elections. She says Woonton told the group, which held a peaceful rally outside parliament, to give him two weeks during which he will work on constitutional changes to reduce the number of parliament members.

Ponga says the rally, which attracted over 150 people, is only the beginning of the pressure on politicians. "People are tired of how they have forgotten about the people and have carried out things on their own and disregarded us completely, and they forgot that it was the voters themselves that put them there. And we should not be ignored, but let us work together, or come back and consult us, the people, before you do anything any more," she said.

The lone opposition member in the Cooks, Norman George, is ruling out the possibility of working again with Woonton.

The leader of the Democratic Party, Dr. Terepai Maoate, has said he is not fully committed to the coalition set up last Friday because he hasn't been given two cabinet posts as expected. George says Maoate is in negotiations with him, but he won't be returning to the current government.

"I have no desire whatever to work with Dr. Woonton again and neither will I ever have any desire to work with Sir Geoffrey Henry as well, because they are the ones that teamed up to sack me. And I was sacked for no other reason than political," George said.

Twenty-four out of the 25 members are in the current coalition government.

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

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