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Petition brings PM to court

Saturday July 21, 2018 Written by Published in Politics
Prime minister Henry Puna. 18072043 Prime minister Henry Puna. 18072043

Prime minister Henry Puna will take the stand in court on August 13 to give evidence regarding the Rakahanga petition filed by the leader of the Democratic Party Tina Browne.

In her petition against Cook Islands Party (CIP) candidate Toka Hagai, who won the seat in the June 14 election, Browne alleged the caretaker PM Puna during a meeting with the voters at Hagai’s residence on June 12, declared that June 14 and 15 would be public holidays on Rakahanga.

In her petition, Browne alleged one significant purpose for the declaration of a public holiday by the caretaker PM was political, namely to procure the election of Hagai.

“Alternatively, the payment of the electors despite their not working was a corrupt or illegal practice committed for the purpose of promoting or procuring the election of the respondent (Hagai) that so extensively prevailed that it may reasonably be supposed to have affected the result,” she alleged in her petition.

“Alternatively, the declaration of a public holiday by the caretaker Prime Minister was a corrupt or illegal practice committed for the purpose of promoting or procuring the election of the respondent that so extensively prevailed that it may reasonably be supposed to have affected the result.”

On Thursday, Chief Justice Sir Hugh Williams, who is presiding over the matter, set the dates for hearing of the six electoral petitions demanding inquiries into the conduct of the 2018 election.

The hearing of the Rakahanga petition will be held on August 10, 11 and 13.

In her Rakahanga petition Browne also alleged bribery and treating from the CIP MP Hagai.

Pukapuka-Nassau petition filed by Democratic Party’s Willie Katoa against chief electoral officer Taggy Tangimetua and the winner of the Pukapuka-Nassau seat, Tingika Elikana of the CIP, will be heard after the Rakahanga 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.

On August 14, the High Court will hear the petition filed by Demos’ Teina Rongo, who made an application against CIP’s Albert Nicholas, for the Avatiu-Ruatonga-Palmerston seat.

Rongo has alleged Nicholas directly or indirectly gave money or valuable consideration to electors in order to induce them to vote.

The hearing of the Ngatangiia petition from CIP’s Kaka Ama against winner Tamaiva Tuavera of the Demo Party will take place next, followed by the Murienua petition.

Murienua’s Democratic Party candidate James Beer filed a petition against CIP’s Patrick Arioka, in which he alleges money, valuable consideration and offices of employment were, directly or indirectly, given or offered to voters in order to induce them to vote for Arioka.

Beer also alleged corrupt or illegal practices, including government influence, was committed to help Arioka win the seat.

The Mauke electorate petition filed by One Cook Islands party’s Tungane Williams against CIP’s Tai Tura will be the last one to be heard in the High Court.

Bribery, undue influence, treating and issues regarding voter qualification feature in the various allegations made by the six petitioners.

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