Cook's campaign continues with possible candidate absence
The leader of the Cook Islands Democratic Party says Kete Ioane remains their candidate for a by-election, despite the potential for him to be transferred to NZ for medical treatment.
The leader of the Cook Islands Democratic Party says their candidate for an upcoming by-election on Aitutaki could be sent to New Zealand for hospital treatment.
Wilkie Rasmussen says Kete Ioane -- who the opposition hopes will gain them an extra seat so they can form a coalition government -- aggravated an old leg injury and was taken to Rarotonga for scans and medical treatment.
He says it's likely that Mr Ioane will undergo surgery, possibly in New Zealand.
Mr Rasmussen told Jamie Tahana that if that happens, then the by-election campaign will continue in Mr Ioane's absence.
WILKIE RASMUSSEN: Last week Thursday, he had a bit of a twinge I think on his left leg. He had no medications on Aitutaki to address the pain and he was sent through to Rarotonga, and it has been discovered here in Rarotonga that it is an old injury from a bike accident he had when he was a young man. And they are scanning him at the moment and treating him, and probably will operate on his leg to align the bones. I think there are misaligned bones and some muscle tissue - that's what the doctor explained to me this morning.
JAMIE TAHANA: And that will be done on Rarotonga?
WR: Yes. But they might refer him to New Zealand. It depends on what type of facilities we have to do such a kind operation, but they continue to assess as to whether they can do it here locally or send him across to New Zealand.
JT: And when do you hope to find that out?
WR: Sometime this afternoon I think, but if I may say so the doctor has assured us it is nothing critical it is simply a corrective surgery to correct something but at the moment the pain is quite excruciating, because he might have twisted his knee or something over the last week.
JT: And if he does end up in New Zealand two weeks ahead of the by-election what does that mean for the campaign? Will he remain the candidate?
WR: Of course he will remain the candidate. Look, if there is anything that would disqualify him then the Electoral Act will spell that out, but nothing like that is at hand. All that has happened is that he can go away and his campaign team and political team will still be pushing for him to be the MP. If his treatment takes a little bit longer than necessary then his life and health comes first.
JT: So the campaign would continue in his absence?
WR: Absolutely. And we are not deterred at all by the latest turn of events, in fact we are more determined - that is the Democratic Party of the Cook Islands is more determined that it will win this seat.
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