Prime Minister Henry Puna told the Speaker Niki Rattle and government MPs that it had been said on television that opposition members were reluctant to accept the Speaker’s decision on the Ruatonga, Avatiu, Palmerston, Panama and Atupa (RAPPA) seat.
Puna said it could be seen that the opposition members were not very happy.
“They were not very happy about the meeting they conducted in June as well as the Speaker’s reluctance to declare the seat for Rappa vacant. This is truly a way of compromising and bringing down the reputation of our country.” Puna said people would not say it was the Demo Party, the opposition or One Cook Islands movement that was at fault but would say it was typical of the Cook Islands.
“People will call us ‘cartoons’. That’s why I am really disturbed, the high standard and honour built by this country has been destroyed by these ‘kids’.
“There has been criticism and ridicule of the RAPPA member and when I was away they (the opposition coalition) wrote to declare the seat vacant.
“I am aware they wrote to you (Speaker) to declare this seat vacant and I know under my own understanding of the law that they can’t do this.
Puna said it didn’t matter what he thought, but what mattered most was the fact that the opposition could not accept the truth.
“They are now fussing and complaining that the Speaker has not made a decision in relation to their request.”
The issue of the RAPPA seat began when the Democratic Party declared the constituency seat held by Nicholas vacant.
Nicholas won the election with the Democratic Party in 2014 and but last year crossed the floor to take up a ministerial post with the CIP government.
Demo party leader William Heather delivered a letter to Speaker of Parliament, Nikki Rattle informing her that a vote on the issue of the party’s confidence in Nicholas found he had failed to support the majority of members of the political party he had belonged to when he was elected. A statement signed by Heather and One Cook Islands Movement president George Turia claimed the law was clear that the seat of the Avatiu-Ruatonga constituency was now vacant. However, any decisions about the validity of the letter still rests with the Speaker.
Puna described the opposition’s complaints about Nicholas as “absolute hypocrisy.”
He said Nicholas had not made the decision to cross the floor on his own but had discussed it with his committee and supporters before joining the Cook Islands Party.
The PM called on the Speaker of Parliament, the Queen Representative and the rest of the Members of Parliament to “be patient” about any criticism thrown their way.