By Florence Syme-Buchanan

Herald correspondent

RAROTONGA - Long-serving Cook Islands Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Henry has resigned and handed over to another veteran politician, Dr Joe Williams.

Sir Geoffrey said he was resigning to keep his party, the Cook Islands Party (CIP), together.

General elections last month were inconclusive and although a coalition was formed, some cabinet choices caused upset.


Sir Geoffrey's 10-year prime ministership was to have been threatened today by a motion of no confidence from the Demo Alliance Party (DAP) after the defection from the CIP last week of Tom Marsters, Tangata Vavia and Williams tipped the balance of power.

The renegade trio demanded Sir Geoffrey's resignation as Prime Minister and party leader and until yesterday it looked as if the split meant that the CIP, the first political party in the Cooks, had been torn apart, possibly forever.

However, with Sir Geoffrey's resignation, everything changed. Marsters and Williams returned to the CIP fold, leaving only Vavia with the DAP.

Sir Geoffrey said he was stepping down to keep the CIP together. "I believe I have a duty to our supporters ... to secure government for them."

A CIP supporter for more than 30 years, Marsters this week described Sir Geoffrey, the man he "served faithfully for 18 years," as "arrogant, vindictive, completely dictatorial and dominating."