21 Nov 2010

Race begins for position of Cook Islands Deputy PM

10:05 am on 21 November 2010

The position of deputy prime minister looks like it's being strongly contested following the Cook Islands Party's apparent victory in the general election.

With advance votes still to be counted, the Cook Islands Party has 15 seats, the ruling Democratic Party has eight, and one seat is tied.

If the Cook Islands Party's majority is confirmed, its leader Henry Puna will automatically be appointed prime minister.

But our correspondent Florence Syme Buchanan says MPs Mark Brown, Norman George, Teariki Heather, Tom Marsters have all put their names forward to be his deputy.

She says the party will have to resolve the issue quickly

"It could destabilise the party but they have such a strong lead at the moment but they have such a strong lead at the moment, that if a member threatens to walk they would still maintain a strong hold."

Florence Syme-Buchanan says people in the Cook Islands wanted a change and are relieved the election is over.

Meanwhile, the former leader of the Democratic Party, Sir Terepai Maoate is attributing the party's apparent defeat in the general election to its poor performance in office.

The current Democratic Party leader, Robert Wigmore has so far declined to comment on the result.

But Sir Terepai says the party's behaviour following the change in leadership and his own sacking as finance minister contributed to the party's demise.

The unconstitutional performance of the six members of parliament allowed by the Queen's representative to run this country for over a year is also a concern. And the poor performance, I see nothing has moved since they came in for fear if they call up parliament, it's more like ending their administration because both sides in opposition was there against them.

Sir Terepai says he is standing down from politics after unsuccessfully standing as an independent in this election.