The observer mission of four was led by a Solomon Islands senior official and included the Niue Chief Electoral Officer and staff from the Forum Secretariat. They were here at the invitation of the Cook Islands Government and observed the electoral process through to the close of polling. “Under the Framework for Pacific Regionalism, the 18 member countries of the Pacific Islands Forum, which include the Cook Islands, is committed to promoting and upholding the principles of good governance across its membership and Forum Election Observer Missions are a cornerstone of this work,” a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration media release said.
Ministry secretary Tepaeru Herrmann said the Cook Islands government saw immense value in independent observer missions such as this as an opportunity to strengthen the country’s national democratic processes and to share its experiences with neighbouring forum members.
In the course of its mission, the team met with a wide range of Cook Islands stakeholders including government officials, political parties, youth and church groups, civil society organisations, private sector and the media. Members also travelled to Aitutaki during their visit. The Forum mission was also welcomed by Cook Islands chief electoral Officer Taggy Tangimetua, who herself was previously a member of the Forum’s election observer team to the Vanuatu 2016 elections.
“The Forum Election Observer Mission, through their observations and post mission report, avail to the Electoral Office and the Cook Islands government valuable feedback which can only strengthen our electoral processes,” said Tangimetua.
“This can only contribute to greater transparency and integrity of our Cook Islands electoral processes.”
Forum Electoral missions are independent with membership drawn from electoral and governance experts from across the Pacific. The mission covers the environment in which elections are held, including the electoral framework, as well as the processes for the conduct of elections. In addition to meeting stakeholders, the team observed the opening of polls, polling, closing and the counting of votes.