10 Feb 2005

Preliminary results show Puna wins Cook Islands by-election

5:05 pm on 10 February 2005

The MP-elect in the Cook Islands seat of Manihiki, Henry Puna, says that the fact his party is now in the government coalition held sway over voters.

Preliminary results from yesterday's by-election in Manihiki indicate that the seat has been won by Mr Puna.

The Cook Islands Party candidate polled 120 votes - 20 more than the Democratic Party's Apii Piho.

The seat became vacant after the former prime minister, Dr Robert Woonton, agreed to step down as MP if a court challenge over his win in the September election was withdrawn by the other candidate, Mr Puna.

Mr Puna says the attraction of his party being in government carried a lot of weight with electors.

"Interestingly, Dr Maoate, the opposition leader, was pushing the youth and the fact that his candidate was, as he called it, a real Manihikian. But those issues I think were sort of marginilised by people in light of the fact that we're in government and therefore we're able to deliver on our plans and visions for Manihiki."

Final results are expected later this week.