MARURAI ELECTED PRIME MINISTER IN COOKS

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 15) – The new Cook Islands prime minister is Jim Marurai from the minority Demo Tumu party.

Mr Marurai, the former minister of education, was voted in by 14 votes to 9, confirming that the coalition deal between the Demo Tumu party and the Cook Islands Party, has held.

The opposition Democratic Party did not put forward a candidate.

Marurai told parliament that he was proud to be given this opportunity to lead the country for the next two years. He did not say who would be leading the country for the remaining two years of the parliamentary four year term but the clear inference is that his coalition partner, Sir Geoffrey Henry, would probably take that role over.

He has named, Piho Rua, Vaevae Pare, Tom Marsters and Tupou Faireka as members of his cabinet.

The deputy Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, Sir Geoffrey Henry, says the new cabinet has strong leadership.

Sir Geoffrey says Mr Marurai was voted in because he has many attributes.

"He’s a well educated man, he’s honest, he’s humble and to his credit he represents one of our outer-island electorates and I think he’s going to do a fine job."

The new speaker of parliament is a former MP, Norman George.

December 17, 2004

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

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