18 Aug 2003

Cook Islands speaker to declare one Aitutaki seat vacant this week

4:34 pm on 18 August 2003

The Cook Islands speaker of parliament, Sir Pupuke Robati, says he will accept the resignation of opposition MP, Teina Bishop, and declare the seat vacant, this week.

This will prompt another by-election, only a week after voting was completed in the Ruaau seat.

There is also the possibility that there could be further by-elections as two other MPs wait to hear if their seats will be declared vacant if the court finds they were double dipping with contracting to the government.

Sir Pupuke says the public needs to know the reasons behind Mr Bishop's resignation.

"When we make the declaration we have to state the reasons, that's why I want to sit down with the clerk and go through the act before we do anything declaring the seat vacant. We have to look at the act and all other rules that are involved in the resignation."

Mr Bishop, who is one of three MPs from Aitutaki, announced his intention to step down last month after what he says was an insultingly low allocation from the budget.

Aitutaki is to receive about three percent of the budget but has ten percent of the population.

Sir Pupuke says the Electoral office will announce when the by-election will take place.