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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, Jan. 2) – The Cook Islands Party has nominated Henry Puna to contest the Manihiki by-election on 8 February.

Mr Puna stood in the September general election against the former prime minister, Robert Woonton.

The Cook Islands News reports that the Demo Tumu leader, Dr Woonton, says the issue of his nomination rests with his committee members.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party has ruled out any possibility of Dr Woonton contesting the seat under that party’s party banner.

The Democratic Party President, Makiuti Tongia, says the divide between Dr Woonton and the party is probably too wide to mend overnight.

Dr Woonton vacated the seat early this month after he saw his four-vote margin at the September general election turn into a 134 vote draw.

Mr Puna withdrew further petitions and Dr Woonton stepped down and opted to take the issue back to the people.

Dr Woonton has since formed the Demo Party Tumu.

January 3, 2005

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com


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