Speaking from Manihiki last week and prior to his flight, Puna – leader of the Cook Islands Party - said he will be visiting the Head of State “as soon as possible”, where it is expected he will look to have his new government sworn in.
Results released last week indicated a sliver of a majority in the 24-seat Parliament for CIP, which came ahead in 13 constituencies – the majority of those seats in the outer islands.
It is unclear how a swearing-in ceremony at Government House would take shape, as it is believed Queen’s Representative Tom Marsters is currently attending the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
Queries to the office of the Head of State for specific details on the trip and post-election responsibilities of the QR were left unanswered last week.
“Quite clearly at the moment, we have the majority to form a government, to get the team together, and get that process moving,” said Puna.
With the Party’s slim majority, it remains to be seen how a prospective Puna-led government will be viewed by the Queen’s Representative.
According to the Cook Islands Constitution, the Queen’s Representative - acting in his discretion - can terminate Puna from the role of Prime Minister after a general election if it is believed he will be unable to command the confidence of a majority of the members of Parliament.
With Friday’s deadline for petitions to be lodged in the High Court, the results of a number of seats currently held by both parties could end up being in jeopardy.
Apart from indications by the Demos to contest two results in Atiu, it is unknown how many petitions the Party will eventually lodge in Court.
Over the weekend, a source wishing to remain anonymous claimed a petition is currently in the works in Matavera, where Demo candidate Cassey Eggelton could potentially seek to overturn Kiriau Turepu’s victory.
Puna said CIP machinery is currently analysing the results and exploring whether there may be grounds to petition any of the results.
“I would expect that given the closeness of some results, there may be some technical challenges,” he said.
The Chief Electoral Office is also expected to begin a recount of the current tie in Mitiaro between incumbent MP and Demo member Tangata Vavia and Tuakeu Tangatapoto of the CIP.
Should the recount confirm the stalemate, a by-election will be called for the island.