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Matenga issue ‘storm in a teacup’

Monday April 16, 2018 Written by Published in Politics

Leaders of the Cook Islands Party (CIP) have responded to the Margaret Matenga’s claims of corruption and bias in the runoff for the Titikaveka CIP candidacy.


Finance minister Mark Brown says her election was unconstitutional and prime minister Henry Puna calls it “a storm in a teacup.”

Matenga, who was running for the candidacy, was not confirmed by the committee’s chairman, despite receiving nine votes to the five each of her two opponents, back in May 2017.

After almost a year of waiting, Matenga announced last week that she would be running as an independent in the 2018 General Election for Titikaveka, citing corruption and bias within the party.

Brown refuted Matenga’s claims, saying that the TCIP followed the constitution in how the candidate was selected.

“The issue with her win back in May was that she was selected by a small group of people,” Brown said.

“There’s no select process under the constitution where a small group of people determine whether there’s more than one candidate putting their name forward.”

Following Matenga’s win in May, the TCIP ran a second run-off in March between the two candidates who lost the initial election, Moeroa Tamangaro and John Tumutoa. Matenga was not present.

Tamangaro won 57 to 51, but Brown also said that this was not under the constitution of the CIP, and that a proper runoff was needed.

Last week that “proper” runoff was conducted, with Tamangaro claiming the Titikaveka candidacy after receiving 106 votes to Tumutoa’s 101, with Matenga withdrawing to run as an independent.

Puna said that there was no disappointment that this happened during an election year, and like Brown, pushed back at the corruption charges.

“As the minister said quite clearly, there is a party constitution in place, and that governs anything and everything to do with the party. That’s all we’re doing,” Puna explained.

“The minister was keen to ensure that everything was done properly on the night they had the public meeting. So he went, and gave some advice on what ought to be done. But this is really a storm in a teacup.”

Brown attended the meeting, where they advised the party to conduct the election properly, in his capacity as the former president of the party, and as a drafter of the current constitution.

“We advised them of the proper process they should undertake in order to have a legitimate candidate selected through a legitimate process outlined in the constitution,’ Brown said.

“Otherwise, we risk compromising the integrity of whoever we select through a process that is not constitutional.”

Matenga said she believed her election had followed the constitution, as per the advice from the CIP president and secretary general.

She also referred to her letter to the editor (April 5) in which she detailed the selection process.


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