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‘Horse trading’ in power transition

Saturday 3 October 2020 | Written by Emmanuel Samoglou | Published in Politics

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‘Horse trading’ in power transition
Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Mark Brown and his wife Daphne. 20093015

The Opposition made attempts to bolster their numbers in the House in the lead-up to the swearing-in of Mark Brown as the new Prime Minister.

Negotiations between some Government Members of Parliament and the Opposition Democratic Party took place in the lead-up to this week’s change of leadership.

But despite the political horse trading no changes were made to the nation’s political landscape.

Opposition leader Tina Browne yesterday confirmed negotiations with the Cook Islands Party MPs did take place but to no avail.

The transition of power from Manihiki MP Henry Puna to Prime Minister Mark Brown on Wednesday was marred in controversy after an objection by members of the Opposition earlier in the day in Parliament.

Opposition leader Tina Browne and Titikaveka MP Sel Napa had argued that proper Parliamentary procedure for the vote of confidence in the new Prime Minister was not followed, resulting in a delay of PM Brown’s swearing-in ceremony.

Leaders from the Cook Islands Party and the Demos said behind-the-scenes negotiations had been taking place between both parties and MPs.

Henry Puna yesterday said: “The Demos had been busy trying to lure some of our independent members across, even up to the day of the motion.”

“They knew that their efforts were frustrated and nothing was going to happen, and this was their last ditch attempt, the way I see it, for them to frustrate the process.”

Opposition leader Tina Browne described the negotiations as part of the political process.

“Negotiations are part and parcel of politics. The CIP negotiates. The Democrats negotiate. Simple and normal,” Browne said.

“There is nothing wrong with negotiations, often this is how the best results are reached. To the CIP members, our door is always open and we are always prepared to listen.”

Despite the political drama, the makeup of Parliament was unchanged as the Opposition party was unable to persuade any MP’s to cross the floor.

“During political negotiations it always comes down to the terms,” said Browne.

“As I said last week, there are only so many rewards to go around amongst a team whose members are all expecting something in return for their continued loyalty. That negotiations did take place is very strongly indicative that not everyone is happy in the CIP group.”