Cooks Democratic Party gathering bribery evidence
The Cook Islands Democratic Party says it is putting together a good case to back up its allegations of bribery and cheating in the election.
The Cook Islands Democratic Party says it is gathering a good case to back up its allegations of bribery and cheating in the election.
The Cook Islands Party won a majority in the July election with 13 seats, but the Democratic Party has filed eight petitions challenging the results at a cost of at least $52,000 New Zealand dollars.
Its president, Sean Willis, told Daniela Maoate-Cox the party's central committee is double checking all petitions to make sure they meet the court's requirements.
SEAN WILLIS: The constituencies that we have filed for are quite strong, I think they do have a good case it's a matter now of ensuring we have proper evidence that cheating or bribery has taken place and then filing. And unfortunately for us we ended up on the wrong side of the coin, all our key seats that we held on election night were overturned because the registrar in the constituencies had the power to cancel votes by declaration and unfortunately you need to go to court to sort that out.
DANIELA MAOATE-COX: What about the Chief Justice's comment that some of these petitions are just silly and rubbish?
SW: Well these are his observations initially and there is a bit of truth that he thought some of the points raised might be frivolous but the thing is when you put a petition in you got to put as much stuff in initially because you can't add on, you can withdraw but you can't add on.
DM-C: So have these petitions been filled out to include every possible allegation?
SW: I mean it's what the constituency committee think where they have a case and they've done that. We're actually, as a central committee, trying to go around and double check to ensure that we're not wasting the Chief Justice or the court's time.
DM-C: This is a lot of money, can the Democratic Party afford this?
SW: Well, what do you do? Do you sit on your butt and accept what you consider to be wrong or do you stand up and find the money to be heard? If we don't stand up and fight for it now we've gotta wait four years.
DM-C: Overall, this petition process, how do you feel about it and where it's going?
SW: Well, the way the election ended with the final count, it's too much of a coincidence to have all these seats jump to the other side just like that so we need to stand up and sort this out now so it doesn't occur again.
DM-C: And you believe your case is strong enough?
SW: Oh it is. We're not putting up 60 grand (NZD) because of sour grapes as the Prime Minister said, it's putting our money where our mouth is because we think that there's something wrong that's occurred and it's a matter of ensuring that we have correct evidence. Whereas some of the committee members from the constituencies will be a bit emotional, we're looking at it from a legal point of view and the cost involved but we're not gonna not do anything and wait for four years.
Sean Willis says its petitions with the strongest evidence have been funded but the party is still looking for ways to cover the rest.
Final petitions and payment is due on August the 8th.
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