By-election set for Aitutaki

Thursday August 18, 2016 Written by Published in Politics

A BY-ELECTION will be held in Aitutaki’s Arutanga/Reureu and Nikaupara electorate as a result of former opposition parliamentary leader Teina Bishop being found guilty on a serious corruption charge.

 

Chief electoral officer, Taggy Tangimetua said the by-election would be held on October 13 this year, with the main roll closing on August 22 at 4pm.

One Cook Islands movement member Bishop, who will be sentenced in the High Court on August 25 was charged and found guilty of corruption as a Minister for the Crown.

Bishop now has to exit a political career spanning 17 years during which he was an MP and cabinet minister, with portfolios including marine resources, tourism and education. Since the guilty verdict was declared on July 19, smoke signals and letters to the editor of CI News have questioned why it has taken so long to declare Bishop's seat vacant and call for a by-election.

On Tuesday CI News received an unconfirmed report that the Registrar had contacted the Clerk of Parliament and the Chief Electoral Officer, clearing the way for the seat to be declared vacant and a by-election to be scheduled.

Yesterday Tangimetua said she had advised the Speaker of the House, Niki Rattle, and the Arutanga-Nikaupara-Reureu seat had been officially declared vacant.

The supplementary rolls will close on September 5 and lodging of objections to names on the main roll will close on August 29. The lodging of objections to names on the supplementary roll will close on September 12. Tangimetua said candidates’ nominations would close on September 1 at around noon and each nomination had to lodge with a sum of $500 to her or the Deputy Registrar on Aitutaki.

The by-election is being held in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2014. 

Depending on the severity of Bishop’s sentence, the by-election opens up a number of scenarios on the political front, with some political observers predicting that Aitutaki mayor Tekura Bishop, Teina Bishop's brother, could quit his mayoral position and contest the election as a One Cook Islands candidate.  

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