Petition hearings underway

Saturday August 11, 2018 Written by Published in Politics
Prime minister Henry Puna, pictured with deputy prime minister Mark Brown (centre) at the swearing in of three new cabinet ministers last month. The PM will appear in court on Monday to give evidence in an electoral petition hearing. Left is Pukapuka- Nassau MP Tingika Elikana. 18081027 Prime minister Henry Puna, pictured with deputy prime minister Mark Brown (centre) at the swearing in of three new cabinet ministers last month. The PM will appear in court on Monday to give evidence in an electoral petition hearing. Left is Pukapuka- Nassau MP Tingika Elikana. 18081027

A number of witnesses took the stand in High Court yesterday to give evidence regarding the Rakahanga electoral petition filed by Democratic Party leader Tina Browne following the May 14 general election.

 

The hearing before Chief Justice Sir Hugh Williams will continue today and is expected to wrap up on Monday when prime minister Henry Puna takes the stand. Puna, who was in Samoa on an official engagement this week, is expected to return home today.

In her petition against Cook Islands Party (CIP) candidate Toka Hagai, who won the seat, Browne alleged Hagai had been involved in bribery and treating.

She also alleged that during a meeting with the voters at Hagai’s residence on June 12, caretaker PM Puna had declared that June 14 and 15 would be public holidays on Rakahanga.

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

A recount of votes for the Pukapuka-Nassau constituency will also take place on Monday.

On Tuesday, the High Court will hear the petition filed by the 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 to induce them to vote.

The hearing of the Ngatangiia petition from CIP’s Kaka Ama against winner Tamaiva Tuavera of the Democratic Party will take place on Wednesday, followed by the Murienua petition on August 20.

Murienua’s Democratic Party candidate James Beer filed a petition against CIP’s Patrick Arioka, in which he alleged 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.

The Mauke electoral petition filed by One Cook Islands party’s Tungane Williams against CIP’s Tai Tura will be heard on August 20, followed by the Pukapuka-Nassau petition filed by the Democratic Party’s Willie Katoa against chief electoral officer Taggy Tangimetua and the winner of the Pukapuka-Nassau seat Tingika Elikana of the CIP. The hearing of this petition will go ahead on August 21 or 22, depending on the result of the recount.

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

 

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