Delight for Cook Islands Party after by-election win
A consolidated Cook Islands Party can now concentrate on the country's approaching 50th anniversary after emphatic by-electiion win.
The prime minister of the Cook Islands, Henry Puna, says his government is delighted with the outcome of this week's Vaipae-Tautu be-election.
It brings to an end a nine-month long electoral process after a series of results in the July election were challenged.
The Cook Islands Party's Mona Ioane won 174 votes, beating Amiria Davey of the One Cook Islands Movement by 76 votes.
The Democratic Party's Teinakore Ioane came third.
It means that, coupled with a recent defection by a Democrat MP, Mr Puna's party has 13 seats in the 24-member parliament.
He told Don Wiseman about the relief that the process of establishing the government was now over.
HENRY PUNA: Very delighted but mostly very relieved that the election process is finally over.
DON WISEMAN: It has been a very long process hasn't it? Has it impacted at all on what you wanted to do as a government in this term?
HP: For starters I think that the main impact has been on the preparations for our 50th celebrations [of independence from NZ] on the 4th August because there have been quite a few commitments that we have had to make but could not make because of the uncertain status of government. But in terms of the normal business of government we have gotten on with business, and it has been business as normal since the elections last year.
DW: Is there residual bitterness or will there be residual bitterness over what has happened here because it seems to have been the most fractious election in a long long time in the Cook Islands?
HP: It has been a very fractured election but I think it is only because of the closeness of the elections and especially because the result has seen the loss of the leadership of the Democratic Party. Both the leader Wilkie Rasmussen and one of the vocal senior figures in their party, Norman George, both lost their seats, so I guess that inspired and triggered the fight, if you like, for them to try and regain their seats. So we have been through the court process many times and now we have finally reached the end. But I think that is the only reason why that election has dragged on so long.
DW: It has given rise again to calls for political reform. Is that something you are going to embrace?
HP: Political reform is not our priority right now, or at least it is not the priority of my government. As I said before our priority now is to consolidate government's position and to bring our people together so we can move forward with the plans for our celebrations in August. And that is an occasion that we wish to see bring all our people together - all sectors of the community.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: