A former campaign manager for one of the two coalition parties in the Cook Islands has hit back at criticism of the country from its next door neighbour, French Polynesia.
Cook Islands Democratic Party official Sam Crocombe says he is very concerned about comments by French Polynesia leader Gaston Flosse.
Mr Crocombe says he saw television footage of Mr Flosse describing the Cook Islands as being 10 to 20 years behind Tahiti and that people there were poor, driving old "rustbuckets" and living in old houses.
Mr Flosse told supporters in Tahiti that voting for opposition leader Oscar Temaru would lead French Polynesia down the same track as the Cook Islands.
"This is sad, really sad," says Mr Crocombe.
He says this is not the first time that Gaston Flosse has used the Cook Islands in scare tactics and that many visiting Tahitians were surprised to see lots of new cars and buildings when they visit Rarotonga.
French Polynesia is currently in the lead up to by-elections in the strongly opposition constituencies of Tahiti and Moorea.
One of Mr Crocombe's counterparts from Tahiti, Max Tairea, is in Rarotonga to appear in a radio talkback show this morning to answer criticism from Gaston Flosse.
The talkback show will also be broadcast in Tahiti, believed to be the first dual broadcast of its kind between the two countries, whose people share the same languages but different colonial legacies.