Police are progressing with the investigation into Mona Ioane, the newly-elected Member of Parliament for Vaipae-Tautu and will make a public statement at the ‘appropriate time’.
That statement came from Police Commissioner Maara Tetava last week, just days away from the Vaipae-Tautu by-election held yesterday. The investigation into Ioane centres on allegations of bribery during the 2014 General Election, where it is alleged he employed a woman as a field office in order to entice her to vote for him.
Detective Inspector Areumu Ingaua is leading the investigation which has included interviews in Aitutaki, and would not comment on the case. These allegations sparked the Court of Appeals’ decision in December under the 2004 Electoral Act to order a by-election in Vaipae-Tautu. The Court of Appeal found Ioane guilty of bribery under the Electoral Act, and it is their duty to pass this onto the police to further investigate. If police lay charges against Ioane, he may choose to stand down from his Vaipae-Tautu electorate seat. If Ioane is convicted, he will be struck off and another by-election will have to be held in the seat of Vaipae-Tautu.