50th celebrations

The Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, Henry Puna, says his Government wants this year’s 50th independence anniversary celebrations to bring unity to the country.

This follows a fractious electoral process that has dragged on for nine months but a win in the Vaipae-Tautu by-election this week ensures Mr Puna’s Cook Islands Party a workable majority.

It means that, coupled with a recent defection by a Democrat MP, his party has 13 seats in the 24-member Parliament.

Mr Puna says the focus now are the celebrations on the 4th of August.

“Our priority now is to consolidate government’s position and to bring our people together so we can move forward with the plans for our celebrations in August. And that is an occasion that we wish to see bring all our people together — all sectors of the community.”

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