4 May 2004

Elimination vote result in Cook Islands seat yet to be confirmed

7:52 am on 4 May 2004

Cook Islands businessman, Eugene Tatuava, says he expects to get the nod as Democratic Party candidate for the Tengatangi-Areora-Ngatiarua seat in Atiu after claiming 93 votes in a poll of supporters.

However his rival and sitting MP, Norman George, says that he believes the results were falsified after his observers told him only 68 people had turned out to vote.

The Cook Islands News reports that Mr George has described it as vote-rigging and was unhappy that his name was written on the ballot against his will.

However, Mr Tatuava has dismissed the allegations, saying that the poll had been above board, with votes counted by the police.

He says he is delighted with the result and expects to be endorsed as candidate.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party president, Iaveta Short, says he is waiting a report from the party's Secretary-General, Aporo Dean, who travelled to Atiu to observe the elimination vote.

Mr Short is reluctant to get involved until he sees the report but says a figure of 93 votes, if verified, would be hard to ignore.