Calls for electoral changes

RAROTONGA – Cook Islands Finance Minister Mark Brown is calling for “tidying up” electoral reforms after an election in July has plunged the country into allegations and recriminations about the future.

In an interview with Pacific Scoop he says it is “unfortunate” that the electoral process is because of a high number of petitions challenging the results has forced a long period of uncertainty for the people.

“We need to look at some sort of amendments that will tidy up the electoral process and pre-empt a majority of petitions which focus on voter eligibility,” he says.

“The establishment of a full time electoral office and chief registrar could be a step in the right direction.”

Following the July election, a fierce contest has played out in the courtrooms with a total of nine petitions with allegations of fraud and bribery lodged from the defeated Democratic Party against the ruling Cook Islands Party,

which at present holds a slim majority with 13 seats in the 24-seat Parliament.

Out of those nine, the Democrats have since withdrawn threes, the High Court has dismissed five and one is pending.

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