2 Jul 2004

Reform advocate to stand as independent in Cook Islands election

1:26 pm on 2 July 2004

Elizabeth Ponga, from the Group for Political Change, says increasing threats facing democracy in the Cook Islands have prompted her to stand as a candidate in the upcoming general elections.

Mrs Ponga will contest the Tupapa-Maraerenga seat on September the 7th, running on an anti-corruption platform.

She says during her two years pushing for political reform she has seen the corruption politicians are capable of, and now wants to put her voice against it in parliament.

Mrs Ponga says a dangerous precedent was set when libel action was taken against people who protested against the Cook Islands residency of convicted New Zealander Mark Lyon.

"People are being sued for speaking out, and acting in what they believe is right for our country. Now if politicians, especially the top people in our country, if they believe they can do that, what is the future holding for everyone who lives in this country? That means that democracy is being threatened."

Elizabeth Ponga