Puna, who was travelling to Palau to attend the Small Islands States leaders meeting, had to turn back home after a political meltdown on Monday saw the opposition passing a vote of no confidence against the Puna-led government and appointing Cook Islands Party (CIP) MP Rose Brown as their prime minister.
However, the opposition’s effort was deemed illegal by Queen’s Representative Tom Marsters, who stood by the decision of Speaker of Parliament Nikki Rattle who adjourned parliament “sine die” on Friday last week.
Puna, who arrived back in the country on Wednesday, said he had a strong support of his caucus, adding his position as the country’s prime minister was “under no threat whatsoever”.
“THESE ARE rumours floating around coming from outside, but not from the government,” Puna told the media at a press conference yesterday.
Puna condemned the action of the opposition, who maintain their action were justified under Standing Orders and the Cook Islands constitution.
“I think what has happened is very embarrassing because I don’t really think they really thought through the full implication for them and for our country.” Puna said.
The events of Monday have caught the attention of media in the wider Pacific region, with a number of them describing the opposition’s bid as an attempted “coup”.
Puna said the reputational damage caused by the opposition coalition’s action had been huge.
“We have been through a period of political stability since 2010 and it’s something I have been proud of and something we have been respected for by the region and the international community. And to have that happen just undermines all the good work and progress we have made.
“Now it’s our job to go out and repair the damage that has been caused.”
Puna also hit back at the attacks made on Marsters calling them unfair and unjustified.
Some opposition supporters are questioning the impartiality of the QR.
“I actually feel very sorry for the attacks aimed at the Head of State for doing what is considered proper for him to do. He hasn’t made any judgement. He just articulated where he thinks things are, taking into consideration what happened in parliament from what the clerk and Speaker briefed him with.
“I think it’s very unfair that he has been characterised as being pro-CIP. Of course, we do not deny that it was the CIP that appointed him and he has a CIP background, but to denigrate the positon of Head of State in that manner and for that reason is totally unjustified.”