His move was announced yesterday by prime minister Henry Puna.
It is believed a by-election will be held for his seat in RAPPA within seven weeks and it is understood Nicholas will stand again, but this time under the CIP banner.
Earlier this year an Opposition legal bid to have Nicholas’ seat declared vacant was dismissed by the High Court saying the move could not have succeeded on the facts.
But the court did clarify a number of matters regarding the anti vaka-hopping legislation. The prime minister told CI News: “His resignation is really the right thing to do, because the High Court has given its judgement in the case challenging the minister’s (Nicholas) continued membership of parliament and so now we know what the legal situation is.
“It is up to us to do the right thing following on from that pronouncement. The right thing was not unclear in our minds. We’ve always been certain of what we need to do and we’re just waiting for the court pronouncement to come out.
“The member himself, all credit to him, has actually been instrumental in initiating this step and it’s because he wants to do the right thing.
“He doesn’t want to take a free ride for the rest of the parliamentary term. He wants to be an active participating MP in all the business of parliament and government.”
Puna said: “If he votes for supply for government that will trigger the anti vaka-hopping legislation and the law is quite clear on that. “We have done things up to now to protect him from being exposed to that sort of consequence.”
Puna also said: “The court made comments that if a member who is elected to a particular party does not support that party – it seems even by not turning up to parliament – that when vote is held that could be taken as not supporting.”
Implicit in that is a warning to parliamentary Opposition leader Rose Brown, who originally entered parliament as a Cook Islands Party MP.
Asked if that was what he was saying, Puna said: “No question, Rose Brown is caught by this judgement and by the language of the Act. It is up to her what she does.
People will see there is a challenge that faces her in doing the right thing – the right thing that Albert Nicholas is doing.
“I imagine there will be quite a bit of pressure on her to do the right thing. It makes her position completely untenable as leader of the Opposition.”
The prime minister said things had moved quickly since the party floated the idea with its two committees in Avatiu - Nicholas’ own committee through the last election, and the CIP committee. “They have met in Avatiu and they will combine and merge and their new committee is everybody on those two committees, and they have agreed to only have one candidate.
“He is a very popular man because he is very active in his constituency and we are there behind him to support him in his actions.
“He has initiated a lot of new things in his constituency and has extended a helping hand to all pensioners.
“Helping clean their yards, mow their lawns, rake their rubbish.”
And the prime minister said if re-elected Nicholas will go straight back into his ministry.
He said he had been advised that a by-election could be held within seven weeks.
“Well that is necessary before parliament convenes before the Budget. That’s the next important thing for parliament to do when called together in June.”
He said he expected Nicholas to formally resign early next week. And is the prime minister tempted to go for a snap election along with the by-election.
“That wouldn’t be fair to the people. One thing at a time.
“There is no need for a snap election at the moment, but let’s see how things work out in the by-election.”