The leader of the Cook Islands Democratic Party says its 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 hope will gain it an extra seat so it 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 says if that happens the campaign for the by-election, scheduled for the 17th of February, will continue in Mr Ioane's absence.
"Of course he will remain the candidate. Look, 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."