Cook Islands’ major political parties lobby independents to sure up next government

Cook Islands Parliament Picture: Supplied

AUCKLAND, 05 JULY 2018 (PACIFIC RADIO NEWS) – The race is on in the Cook Islands as the Democratic and Cook Islands parties try to lock in the three non-aligned members who will play a deciding role in the next government.

The official election results have the Democratic Party with 11 seats, the Cook Islands Party with 10, One Cook Islands Party has one seat and two Independent seats.

Insiders from both the leading sides have confirmed cabinet positions are in play and the role of deputy prime minister is being flagged.

Democratic Party Leader Tina Pupuke-Browne says those negotiating need to be mindful of whose interests are being served when they bring their conditions to the table.

“When we join up with partners it’s because we’re dedicated to forming a stable government and a good government rather than looking after ourselves. That’s the approach that I would like people to take,” she says.

“It’s not about me or them, it’s about what is best for the country.”

Newly-elected Cook Islands parliamentarian Robert Tapaitau is close to confirming which political party he will side with when he meets with representatives from the Democratic Party and Cook Islands Party.

Tapaitau and Rose Toki-Brown are the only two independents in the Cook Islands 24-seat parliament.

Tapaitau says he’s going into talks with one thing in mind – to get the best outcome for his people.

“My phone’s been hot and both parties have been ringing so negotiations will start… and we’ll see where we go from there.”

Pupuke-Browne says if the outcome of petition cases and non-aligned members deliver a 12-all split, the major parties and voters could be facing the cost of another general election.

“If there should be a hung position, then the option may be to go back to the polls, which is something that we want to avoid, said Pupuke-Browne.

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