9 Dec 2004

Cook Islands High court to resume hearing two final electoral cases

11:29 am on 9 December 2004

The Cook Islands High court resumes its hearing today, of the two final electoral petitions, one involving the prime minister, Dr Robert Woonton.

There are only four votes separating Dr Woonton, and the challenger, Henry Puna, in Manihiki while there are six votes between the winner of Titikaveka, Robert Wigmore, and Tiki Matapo.

In both petitions, the court will consider the eligibility of some voters following an Appeal Court decision that it could do so.

Previously, candidates could only challenge whether voters had been resident in the country for sufficient time to be eligible but the Appeal court says there are also grounds to challenge whether someone voted in the correct constituency.

The deputy registrar says Justice Kenneth Hingston, from New Zealand, has set aside a week to hear the cases.

Parliament cannot convene until the electoral petitions are finalised so a caretaker administration remains in power, more than three months after the elections were held in September.