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Cabinet shuffle top order of business on return

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Dec. 30, 2009) – Prime Minister Jim Marurai decided to head to Mangaia for his Christmas break last Friday, despite deciding the day before that he would instead work right through the New Year.

It is understood he initially cancelled his flight to Mangaia on Thursday to hold talks with the Democratic Party and then attend the swearing-in of his three new cabinet ministers that day. That afternoon his office said he had decided to stay on at work and forgo his holiday leave due to the changes in government leading up to Christmas.

[PIR editor’s note: Mangaia is the southernmost of the widely-scattered Cook Islands, with a reported population of about 700 – down from about 2,000 in the 1970s. The island, second-largest in the Cooks next to Rarotonga, the main island, is geologically the oldest island in the Pacific.]

However according to his office, the PM received a call from Air Rarotonga on Friday offering him a seat on a flight to Mangaia that day which he accepted.

Marurai is now due back in his office on January 8, but he may decide to come back sooner should he be needed says his office.

Marurai currently holds all the ministry portfolios but is due to divide them up within the next two weeks.

Since last week Robert Wigmore has been deputy prime minister, and Wilkie Rasmussen, Apii Piho and William Heather are the latest additions to cabinet following the sacking of former DPM Sir Terepai Maoate and the resignation of Aunty Mau Munokoa, Tangata Vavia, and Kete Ioane from cabinet.

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