Parliament boycott rumours wrong, says Heather

Friday September 09, 2016 Written by Published in Politics

RUMOURS that the Opposition coalition will boycott the start of the second Parliamentary session of the year next week has been put to rest by Democratic Party leader William ‘Smiley’ Heather.


Heather said the opposition coalition would turn up to parliament “in full force” on Monday to partake in discussions on issues of national interest.

CI News had been reliably informed that opposition coalition parliamentary leader Rose Toki Brown was planning to boycott the parliament sitting on Monday to avoid any possibility of violating the Electoral Act which could put her seat at risk.

Brown was elected into parliament from Teenui-Mapumai constituency under the banner of the Cook Islands Party (CIP).

In June this year, she crossed floor to join the opposition in the bid to overthrow the CIP-led government which proved futile.

CI News understands Prime Minister Henry Puna is planning to make a vote of confidence in the government at parliament next week.

This would possibly put Brown in jeopardy of losing her seat as a vote against the CIP could get her seat declared vacant.

The scenario arose after the Democratic Party on Thursday declared the Ruatonga, Avatiu, Palmerston, Panama and Atupa (RAPPA) constituency seat held by Internal Affairs minister Albert Nicholas vacant.

Nicolas won the 2014 elections with the Democratic Party, but crossed floor last year to take up a ministerial post within the CIP government.

Heather on Wednesday delivered a letter to Speaker of Parliament, Nikki Rattle notifying her that a vote on the issue of the party’s confidence in Nicholas had found he had failed to support the majority of members of the political party he had belonged to when he was elected to parliament.

A statement signed by Heather and One Cook Islands Movement president George Turia, said, “the law is clear that the seat of the Avatiu-Ruatonga constituency is now vacant”.

The statement said the decision to declare the RAPPA seat vacant had been made “under the party integrity provisions of the Electoral Act”.

In the statement, Heather and Turia called for a by-election in the RAPPA constituency.

Meanwhile, Clerk of Parliament John Tangi said yesterday that a decision on the letter from the Democratic Party leader declaring the RAPPA seat vacant rested on the Speaker.

“There has been no decision made, until perhaps when the parliament starts next week. At the moment, it’s just a letter from the Democratic Party leader,” Tangi said.

Tangi also acknowledged the rumours about the opposition coalition’s planned boycott. He said the recent political developments would not interfere with the upcoming parliamentary session which will go ahead on Monday.

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