cook islands PM predicts defeat - transcript

    photo: OPM

"No, I'm not confident because there are a lot of independent candidates and they're going to get good votes, so I'm not confident."

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Radio Australia presenter: Helene Hofman
Updated November 17, 2010 18:19:09

The Cook Islands' outgoing prime minister, Jim Marurai, says he fully expects his Democratic Party will be ousted in elections about to get underway.

Over the last year the party has been shaken by an internal leadership struggle that saw Marurai sack his Deputy Prime Minister, Terepai Maoate prompting a mass resignation of party members.

Jim Marurai and his new deputy, Robert Wigmore, were subsequently kicked out of the party but readmitted in June with Mr Wigmore taking over as party leader.

Speaking to me from his constituency of Mangaia, Jim Marurai says the spat caused irreparable damage and he doesn't believe his party will be re-elected.

Jim Marurai: "According to my team, we haven't been doing any campaigning, my office hasn't even been campaigning either. So a low key approach."

Radio Australia: It has been a difficult year for you in terms of popularity - a lot of voters were talking about how frustrated they were. Has that been part of your decision not to go out on the campaign trail yourself?

Jim Marurai: "Nah, just that I've informed my party that this will be my last term in Parliament, also for my constituents that I won't be going for the PM-ship."

Radio Australia: Robert Wigmore will then supposedly replace you as prime minister if your party is successful, if the Democratic Party gets through?

Jim Marurai: "The Democratic Party feels that the leader of the party should be prime minister."

Radio Australia: Okay, so Robert Wigmore would be the obvious candidate?

Jim Marurai: "Yes, if we get enough."

Radio Australia: Speaking of numbers, how confident are you of getting the numbers?

Jim Marurai: "No, I'm not confident because there are a lot of independent candidates and they're going to get good votes, so I'm not confident."

Radio Australia: It's unusual to hear someone give up before a vote actually takes place, do you feel that the Democratic Party's term has come to an end?

Jim Marurai: "Um, Robert Wigmore has got three independents contesting against him, with one Cook Islands Party. It's going to be very difficult for him to represent. The saying going around is that only two of us are sure to be returned to Parliament - me and another minister from Rarotonga. I'd prefer to have the majority, that's the preference, but I'm not sure whether we'll get it.

Radio Australia: Would you like to see the party build up again in future, work on your reputation, perhaps, over the next term and come back stronger afterwards?

Jim Marurai: "I'll let the new leader run the party."

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