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Petitioners allege bribery

Wednesday July 18, 2018 Written by Published in Politics
Former MP James Beer, pictured in parliament, has fi led a petition in the constituency of Murienua. 18071738 Former MP James Beer, pictured in parliament, has fi led a petition in the constituency of Murienua. 18071738

Bribery, undue influence, treating and issues regarding voter qualification feature in allegations made by the four unsuccessful Democratic Party candidates in electoral petitions demanding an inquiry into the conduct of the election and the candidates or other persons.

Party leader Tina Browne, and fellow candidates James Beer, Teina Rongo and Willie Katoa filed petitions in the constituencies of Rakahanga, Murienua, Avatiu-Ruatonga and Pukapuka-Nassau.

All their petitions are against the Cook Islands Party (CIP) candidates who won the respective seats in the June 14 elections. Katoa’s petition is also against the chief electoral officer Taggy Tangimetua. 

Browne’s petition is against CIP’s Toka Hagai, alleging bribery and treating from the latter.

She alleges Hagai was involved in providing food, drink, entertainment or other provisions to the electors at various gatherings, for the purpose of corruptly influencing the electors or any other person to vote or refrain from voting, or for the purpose of procuring himself to be elected.

Browne presented a detailed explanation to back her allegations, including a list of 31 electors who attended those gatherings.

She also alleged Hagai directly or indirectly offered electors “money or valuable consideration or office of employment” in order to induce electors to vote or refrain from voting.

Browne alleged Hagai also directly or indirectly made a gift or offer to an elector in order to procure the vote.

Again in the particulars, she listed the names of the electors she alleged benefited from the above allegations.

Browne’s petition also alleged that caretaker prime minister Henry Puna, during a meeting with the electors at Hagai’s residence on June 12, declared that June 14 and 15 would be public holidays on Rakahanga.

“A purpose or one significant purpose for the declaration of a public holiday by the caretaker PM was political, namely to procure the election of the respondent (Hagai),” she alleged in her petition.

Katoa’s petition is based on 19 electors he alleged were not qualified to vote in the constituency of Pukapuka-Nassau.

He alleged the Electoral Office erred in permitting their votes to be casted and counted.

Murienua candidate Beer’s petition is against CIP’s Patrick Arioka. He alleges money, valuable consideration and offices of employment were, directly or indirectly, given or offered to electors in order to induce the electors to vote for Arioka.

Beer also alleged corrupt or illegal practices committed in relation to the election for the purpose of promoting or procuring the election of Arioka have “so extensively prevailed that they may be reasonably be supposed to have affected the result”.

Rongo, who was unsuccessful in the Avatiu-Ruatonga constituency, has alleged winner Albert Nicholas of CIP directly or indirectly gave money or valuable consideration to electors in order to induce them to vote.

The Democratic Party candidate also alleged Nicholas had directly or indirectly made a gift or offer to persons in order to induce them to vote for his return to Parliament.

The other two petitions were filed by CIP and the One Cook Islands movement.

The CIP filed a petition in the Ngatangiia constituency where Kaka Ama lost to the Demos’ Tamaiva Tuavera, while the One Cook Islands movement’s Tungane Williams filed a petition for the Mauke seat.

The hearing of the petitions will start at 1pm today after the recount of the votes for the Mauke electorate at 9am.

The Democratic Party candidates are represented by lawyer Benjamin Marshall of Little & Matysik and Mike Mitchell is representing Tungane Williams while Kaka Ama will be represented by Brian Mason.