21 Sep 2004

Cook Islands election outcome might not be known until December

5:15 pm on 21 September 2004

The final outcome of the Cook Islands general election may not be known until early December.

The Democratic party, which won 14 of the 24 seats, says it is filing six petitions over election results.

Its lawyer, Charles Little, says two of those are challenging outcomes on Penrhyn and Rakahanga, while four are defensive petitions to secure their seats and ensure they can present appropriate evidence in court.

Mr Little says the constitution provides for the challenges to take place although they will delay the sitting of parliament.

"It must be called and must sit within three months of a general election. However, there's a rider on that, and a proviso, and that is that all electoral petitions must be dealt with beforehand. So, the onus now is to have the petitions dealt with as expediently as possible."

Mr Little says a judge is arriving in the Cook Islands next week to determine some of the petitions.

Meanwhile, the prime minister's advisor Norman George has filed a petition against the result which saw him lose his Atiu seat.