23 Dec 2004

No names yet for Manihiki by-election in Cook Islands

9:32 am on 23 December 2004

The two leading Cook Islands political parties have yet to confirm names of their candidates to contest the Manihiki by election on February 8th.

Deputy chief electoral officer Nooapii Tearea gazetted the date last week in a constitutional requirement that a by-election be carried out within two months of a parliamentary seat being vacated.

Former prime minister Dr Robert Woonton vacated the seat early this month after his four-margin win was petitioned by Cook Islands Party president and candidate Henry Puna before being declared a draw by the high court.

Mr Puna withdrew other legal proceedings in his petition and Dr Woonton stepped down for a by-election to "take the issue back to the people".

Mr Puna says that the decision to name the candidate for the by-elections rests with party supporters on Manihiki.

The Democratic Party president Makiuti Tongia says that their party plans to field a candidate and will release a name later.