The preliminary result, announced yesterday, had the One Cook Islands’ Pumati Isaraela leading the Cook Islands Party’s Tereapii Maki by 26 votes.
He had 183 votes, Maki 157 and there were four informal votes.
Scrutiny of the roll will be held on Monday at the Electoral Office, Rarotonga, with the final result announced later that day.
Votes tallied include ordinary votes, postal votes, votes in advance and Special Votes taken in Rarotonga on election day. Yet to be determined will be the Votes by Declaration (14).
The result has been branded “historic” by Rose Brown, leader of the OCI/Democratic Party coalition partnership.
The seat, held traditionally by CIP, was secured by OCI in 2014, but declared vacant when Teina Bishop resigned as a MP in June, resulting in the by-election.
“History was created in Aitutaki on Thursday when the joint OCI/DEMO coalition won the Aitutaki by-election,” Brown said.
“I congratulate Pumati Israela and his hardworking team in Are Nikau for their efforts to secure this win.
“This is not just a win for Are Nikau, it is a win for democracy and shows that it is possible for political parties to work together for the benefit of our people, irrespective of party politics.
“This is just the beginning for Pumati and his team, but he can be assured that he has the full support of the OCI/DEMO coalition.”
Brown said: “This spirit of co-operation and working together has brought renewed confidence within the team and we look forward to translating this spirit into positive and constructive policy initiatives that will benefit our people, as well as strengthen our coalition partnership.
“While the final result is yet to be determined, the provisional results indicate success for the OCI coalition and I have informed our team that there is no room for negativity and the spirit of continuing to work together must be our priority.”
OCI president George Turia said he was delighted for the team and the people of Are Nikau.
“Coming from an OCI perspective, it went according to plan. We never diverted from the strategy.
“I’m delighted with the spirit of co-operation and partnership with the Democrats.
This has proven it is achievable and we will be looking at refining strategies.
“It’s a win for democracy, but work still needs to continue.
“The war is not won, the battle is still on.”
And added: “So it’s business as usual. Our objective is to be government.”
Brown said she wished to acknowledge CIP’s participation in the Aitutaki campaign.
“Irrespective of our political differences, we share the common interest of working to achieve the best outcomes for our people.
“On that note, I offer my commiserations to our Prime Minister and his team and especially for Tereapii Maki and his CIP team for their rivalry and political competitiveness.
“At the end of the day, we are all one people and we must never lose sight of that.”
Brown said for now, she will await the final results next week before determining the way forward for Are Nikau.
- Richard Moore/Release