Cook Islands election result still up in air
The leader of the Cook Islands Democratic Party says there is a high likelihood he will appeal a recent High Court decision confirming his loss of the Penrhyn seat.
The leader of the opposition Cook Islands Democratic Party says there is a high likelihood he will appeal a recent High Court decision confirming his loss of the Penrhyn seat.
Wilkie Rasmussen says the Chief Justice made a decision that he did not agree with the Democratic Party's petition to strike out 19 voters who were Australian residents but qualified to vote in the Cook Islands.
He says if the decision stands the seat will be held by Willie John of the Cook Islands Party led by Prime Minister Henry Puna.
Jenny Meyer asked Wilkie Rasmussen where this leaves the result of July's general election of a 24 seat parliament.
WILKIE RASMUSSEN: In terms of numbers, if we succeed in one or two of the petitions, there numbers come down from 13. So they stand to lose the numbers, we stand to gain. If we don't win anything then the status quo remains where they will hold on to 13 and we will hold on to eight and of course there are two others from One Cook Islands and one draw. So all of that has to be determined in the next few weeks.
JENNY MEYER: Just to confirm; can you just clarify your decision on appealing or not appealing?
WR: No, I can't at the moment, I need to discuss this with my lawyers and with the Party itself, so we will do that in the next couple of days. But there is a high likelihood that we will appeal the decision. We don't agree with the Chief Justice's interpretation of the Electoral Act and of the word 'actual resident' as opposed to 'residing' and of course we believe that he erred in law.
JM: Do you have any other comment to make on the outcome of the election and your political future Mr Rasmussen?
WR: We're still hopeful that the Democratic Party government, probably in coalition with One Cook Islands, will form a government. I think out of seven petitions if we are to get at least two of those, then we are sitting close to forming a coalition. And of course for me, I'll wait until the appeal is determined and if we do appeal, we wait for that outcome. If it's unsuccessful then it's probably to the plantations I go.
JM: Ok and what sort of crops will you be growing?
WR: Look I do all sorts of things, I love planting and gardening and I also love fishing. So I might take a bit of time out of public life and do those sort of things. But I run a law practice and I will focus a lot more on that I think in the next few years if I don't succeed in appealing.
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