16 Sep 2004

Cook Islands independent to wait and consider options over government make-up

2:43 pm on 16 September 2004

The sole successful independent candidate in the Cook Islands general election may emerge as the kingmaker in the formation of a new government.

Piho Rua says he is considering his options before he makes a decision on whether to join a government coalition.

While the Democratic Party looks to have a majority of 14 in the 24-seat house, petitions by the Cook Islands Party to overturn some results could alter the balance of power.

It's also unclear whether the Democratic party leader Terepai Maoate or the incumbent, Dr Robert Woonton, also of the same party, will emerge as its candidate for Prime Minister.

Mr Rua, who won the Rakahanga seat, says there are a number of possibilities that could pan out over the next week which might affect the numbers of seats the two main parties have.

"The Cook Islands Party is hoping to gain two more seats if they pursue with their claim in court - which is the Mitiaroa and the Titikaveka seats. If they're successful, that brings them up to eleven. That reduces the number of seats for the Democratic Party to twelve. So the independent would have to... ha ha... that's why I'm leaving my options open."

Piho Rua