Cook Islands by-election ordered after result voided
: Cook Islands is now a minority after an election result is declared void in the Court of Appeal.
The Cook Islands Party has been reduced to a minority government after a Court of Appeal ruling voiding the election result in the Aitutaki seat of Vaipae-Tautu.
The party's Moana Ioane, who had been the education minister, had faced a petition and appeal from the Democratic Party's Kete Ioane.
The court has now ordered a by-election.
Meanwhile the Democratic Party's Tangata Vavia has also been formally warranted as the winner of the Mitiaro seat.
The Democrats' leader, Wilkie Rasmussen, is delighted.
WILKIE RASMUSSEN: Clearing everything out of the way we secure one seat and we are now going to fight for another seat.
DON WISEMAN: But you have still got less seats than the Cook Islands party haven't you?
WR: Yes we have 10. They have 11 and of course the Vaipae by-election. One of our claims was that the Vaipae election should be declared in favour of the Democratic Party because there were two candidates but that wasn't entertained by the Court of Appeal, so it declared the election of the MP was void, and therefore a by-election. We are hoping therefore that we would get that number and we believe that we will.
DW: It all comes to which way the kingmakers, [ the One Cook Islands Movement] go and you are claiming that you guys have an agreement.
WR: Well since the election we have been engaged in talks with Mr Teina Bishop and his other MP George Maggie, and we have been holding some sort of agreement in place, that we would form a government together. At this stage of course with us sticking together we would hold 12 and the government is a minority government of 11.
DW: And you are presuming that you may well end up winning on Aitutaki.
WR: If that is the case then it could be a one seat majority of 13.
DW: The thing is, I guess, regardless of which party is in power, it is going to be a very precarious period for the governing party.
WR: Absolutely. I mean at this stage of course we have effectively a minority government of 11. Now we are going to look into the law books and look into the constitutional arrangements and to see whether such a government can continue to govern, or whether the Queen's Representative could say well I am sacking that previous government because it doesn't hold the majority and I will install the government that demonstrates to me 12 members, I suppose, and then that new government will set the process of confirming that in parliament. I think that will be the next step that we are be looking at. Still, as you say, very precarious.
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