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Rakahanga petition fails

Saturday September 08, 2018 Written by Published in Politics
Democratic Party leader Tina Browne. 18090740 Democratic Party leader Tina Browne. 18090740

Democratic Party leader Tina Browne’s Rakahanga petition has failed, giving final confirmation to the Cook Islands Party’s position in government.

Chief Justice Sir Hugh Williams released his judgment on the petition yesterday afternoon, adding that it will “take a little time” to produce his reasons for the judgment.

“A full judgment in relation to the Rakahanga petition is in draft but since it has become obvious that it will take a little time to produce in final form, it has been decided to issue this judgment in order that the result of the petition will be known, with the draft to be converted to a Reasons for Judgment which will be issued as soon as it can be finalised.”

Responding to news of the judgment via Facebook, a CIP spokesperson thanked the party’s supporters “for their unwavering support during this time”.

“We were clear that we had done the right thing all along and now we can continue to get on with the business of government and leading this country and its people without disruption.”

CIP candidate Toka Hagai has now been confirmed as the rightfully elected Member of Parliament for the Rakahanga electorate.

The result of the Rakahanga petition was the last of six electoral petitions to be delivered, four of which were filed by the Democratic Party, with one each from the CIP and One Cook Islands parties.

None of the six petitions were successful.

Browne’s petition against CIP candidate Toka Hagai, who won the Rakahanga seat in the June 14 general election by 39 votes to 24, alleged among other things that during a meeting with the voters at Hagai’s residence on June 12, caretaker prime minister Henry Puna declared that June 14 and 15 would be public holidays on Rakahanga.

Browne alleged that one significant purpose for the declaration of a public holiday by Puna was political – to help procure the election of Hagai.

Along with Browne’s other allegations, this was proven to be false, with Chief Justice Williams stating that, “the prime minister knew he had no legal power to declare public holidays, did not do so and any interpretation by any of his hearers that those days were to be public holidays on Rakahanga was a misinterpretation for which the prime minister as Mr Hagai’s electoral agent was not responsible”.