Prime Minister Mark Brown in Parliament making his 2021-22 budget speech last year. Photo: CI NEWS/21060843
The new Cook Islands Parliament has still not held a sitting, despite its general election taking place more than five months ago.
will not sit until March at the earliest.
country is waiting for the outcome of the election’s final petition hearing, a
situation Prime Minister Mark Brown said was an anomaly.
makes a mockery of the separation of powers. Parliament should be able to sit
once MPs have been confirmed and gazetted by the chief electoral officer,”
Brown told RNZ Pacific.
petition or challenge is a matter for the judiciary to deal with separately
outside of parliament and parliament should be able to conduct its business
despite petitions being heard.”
said, once parliament is in session, he will look to remove the clause which
prevents it from sitting until all petitions are resolved.
electoral petitions and one application for a recount were filed at the High
Court in August 2022.
pending petition decision was filed by Cook Islands United Party candidate
Margharet Matenga, alleging there were up to eight voters who voted in the
Titikaveka electorate despite being ineligible to do so.
lost to Cook Islands Party member Sonny Williams by three votes in the August
2022 general election.
call-over hearing on the petition was held in the High Court in Avarua in
December, after Williams’ appeal to have the petition struck out was denied.
Colin Doherty, who oversaw the call-over hearing, directed the Court Registrar
to set a date for the hearing of the petition on the first available date after
February 24, 2023.
Islands News understands that it has been estimated that the matter might take
at least five days.
would mean if the first available date is February 27, 2023, and the Registrar
sets that date for the fixture, and the hearing does take only five days, and
the Judge is able to deliver a decision immediately, then the first possible
date for Parliament might be March 6, 2023.
the election, held on August 1, the ruling Cook Islands Party won 12 seats and
is able to govern with the help of three independents.
Democratic Party won five seats, the United Party took three and the One Cook
Islands Movement gaining one seat. Both main opposition parties lost a seat
between the preliminary count on August 1 and the final count on August 10.