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Ruling party in Cook Islands closer to power after gaining seats

Friday 12 August 2022 | Written by RNZ | Published in Pacific Islands, Regional

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Ruling party in Cook Islands closer to power after gaining seats
Cook Islands Prime Minister, Mark Brown. PHOTO: SPREP/COOK ISLANDS GOVERNMENT

The Cook Islands Party has gained two more seats following the final count of the general election, edging it closer to power.

The party, which is led by caretaker Prime Minister Mark Brown, now has 12 seats - with 13 required for a clear majority.

The results, issued by the Chief Electoral Officer, show that Kaka Ama of the Cook Islands Party has claimed the Ngatangiia seat.

The seat initially ended in a tie with the United Party candidate following the preliminary count on August 1.

In Titikaveka, Sonny Williams from the Cook Islands Party has claimed the seat beating United Party's Margaret Matenga who finished six votes ahead of Williams on election night.

Earlier this month, Mark Brown said he was confident of continuing the coalition arrangement with two independents to form a new government.

The Democrats have six seats - down from 11, United has three, and there are three independents.

Neither the One Cook Islands Movement nor the Progressive Party appear to have any seats.

Yes to cannabis

The Cook Islands News is also reporting that a clear majority of voters said "yes" to the cannabis referendum which was held alongside the election.

The paper says the final results show 62 per cent voted "yes", 35 per cent voted "no" and the remaining 3 per cent were "informal".

The referendum is non-binding but Prime Minister Mark Brown said in June the question was "deliberately broad" and the referendum would allow room for wider debate on medicinal cannabis.