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Cook Islands Party still hopeful despite odds

Incubent PM Henry Puna has retained his seat in Parliament but is not sure whether he can still be PM

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands – June 19, 2018: 12.15pm (COOK ISLANDS NEWS): The Cook Islands Party (CIP) remains hopeful of some good news when the final counting of votes from the general election is finalised later this month.

After the initial count on Thursday night, none of the leading parties managed to gain the majority seats to form government.

CIP managed 10 seats, the Democratic Party had 11 seats, two seats went to independent candidates while One Cook Islands party had one seat.

Incumbent finance minister and CIP campaign manager Mark Brown said it was a close result, adding anything could happen in the coming days.

“There is no clear majority so I would like to give everybody some hope and some encouragement that final counts that will come in the next few days will tell the real story, particularly the close seats where they stand,” said Brown in an interview on the CIP Facebook page after the announcement of the preliminary results.

“Let’s look forward to that and also some other matters that may come up in the next few days. But there is no clear majority and I guess there will be a bit of horse trading taking place amongst different members of the two parties plus the independents and we will see what transpires then.”

Five constituencies polled close results where the winners were separated by less than 10 votes each.

Thanking the CIP’s supporters, Brown said the party was pleased with their campaign for this year’s election.

“For us, I’m very happy with the campaign that we have had. We congratulate our supporters and our candidates, in particular the members who have been successful. Congratulations as well to the new ones who have come in.

“Commiserations to those who have lost their seats and let’s wait on the final count, because some of the seats are too close to call and the special votes that are yet to be counted will make a difference in the final result.

“The game is not over yet and we look forward to seeing what the next couple of days brings.”

CIP lost three crucial seats to the Democratic Party, with deputy prime minister Teariki Heather losing to Nooroa Baker in Akaoa, health minister Nandi Glassie going down to young Te-Hani Brown in Tengatangi-Areora-Ngatiarua and agriculture minister Kiriau Turepu losing his Matavera seat to Vaitoti Tupa.

The Henry Puna-led Cook Islands Party has been in power for the past two consecutive terms.

Meanwhile, the Elections Office is waiting for the ship carrying ballot boxes from the northern group islands to arrive on June 21 before finalising the election result.


Democratic Party still hoping for Cooks’ first woman Prime Minister

RAROTONGA (PACIFIC RADIO NEWS): The Democratic Party has confirmed Tina Pupuke-Browne will remain as the party leader, despite her loss in the Rakahanga electorate.

Browne was defeated by Cook Islands Party incumbent Toka Hagai by eight votes.

The party’s co-president Sean Willis says they’re already planning to protest the result.

“There will be a petition for Rakahanga. The leadership issue as it stands, Tina is still the leader and when the results are finalised we’ll then sort out what we’re going to do,” he says.

The electoral commission has until June 28 to tally special, postal and declaration votes towards the final count.

Despite the Democratic Party having 11 of the 24 seats in parliament based on the June 14 preliminary count, Willis is down-playing talk that it has won, focusing instead on the crucial elements which are still in play.

He says they’re taking a wait-and-see approach and expects main rivals, the Cook Islands Party, to do the same.

Willis says politics, like sport, plays to the final whistle.

“Once the results are finalised, you’ll know then what the lay of the field is and at least someone’s not going to move the goal post when you’re taking the conversions. You’ll have a set team and set conditions to work on,” said Willis.

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