22 Nov 2010

Cooks' Puna says talks will determine his deputy

2:39 pm on 22 November 2010

The leader of the party which appears to have won the Cook Islands election says the battle for the deputy prime minister's position can be resolved without creating division.

Preliminary results have given the Cook Islands Party 15 seats, the ruling Democratic Party eight, while one seat is tied.

Under the Cook Island Party's constitution, the leader and deputy leader automatically become prime minister and deputy prime minister if they win their seats and the party's majority is confirmed.

But the party does not currently have a deputy leader, and our correspondent Florence Syme Buchanan says Mark Brown, Teariki Heather, Tom Marsters and Norman George have put their names forward to fill the position.

The Cook Islands Party leader Henry Puna says the matter will be decided after discussions with his team.

"Everyone is a possibility. Norman is a very strong personality and that's something I treasure. I think it's absolutely important that we have people like him in the team so that when there are discussions on anything, we have vigorous discussions in order that we can arrive at a fair and consensual position."

Henry Puna

Final results won't be known until ballot boxes arrive from the northern group, where a lack of fuel and shipping services is causing delays.