Cook Islands Party government remains in caretaker mode

RAROTONGA, (COOK ISLANDS NEWS) – Cook Islands incumbent prime minister Henry Puna and
his government will remain in caretaker mode, with limited power, until the new government is finalised.

The Cook Islands Party government was put on caretaker mode by Queen’s Representative Tom Marsters in April this year when he announced the June 14 election.

The incoming government, likely to be led by the Democratic Party coalition, is expected to be announced after the final election count later this week.

“The (incumbent) government remains in caretaker mode until such time as the Queen’s Representative is satisfied
that there is a government that has the support of the majority of parliament and invites the leader of that majority to form a new government,” said Bredina Drollet, the chief of staff at the Office of the Prime Minister.

“This cannot happen before the final election count is announced by the chief electoral officer. Petitions could present further delays in the forming of a new government.”

During this period, PM Puna and his cabinet retain their executive roles to ensure the day-to-day administration of
government continues, said Drollet.

During this time there were limits on their executive decision-making powers, she said, and convention requires that the caretaker government’s actions do not bind an incoming government or limit their freedom of action.

“Specifically, the caretaker government avoids making major policy decisions that are likely to commit an incoming government, and avoids making significant appointments or entering into major contracts or undertakings,” Drollet said.

“In cases where a decision or action contrary to these conventions is necessary to be taken, the Government
Opposition should be consulted.

“During the caretaker period, government continues to operate and implement existing services and policies.”
Drollet said decisions taken prior to the calling of the election were considered to be existing policy and were generally expected to continue to be implemented.

Meanwhile, Democratic Party stalwarts Ngamau ‘Aunty Mau’ Munokoa and James Beer will remain committed to the party despite losing their seats in the 2018 general election.

In a statement, the party said Munokoa and Beer brought years of knowledge and experience to the Demos.
Munokoa, who was the third woman elected to the Cook Islands Parliament and the first to hold the post of deputy prime minister, lost the Nikao-Panama seat to the Cook Islands Party’s Makiroa Mokoroa.

The 73-year-old was first elected into parliament in a by-election in 1996.
From 1999 to 2002, Aunty Mau served as the Internal Affairs and Works minister. In 2003, she was appointed deputy prime minister, becoming the first Cook Islands woman to hold the position.
Aunty Mau later resigned from cabinet but was then reappointed in 2005 and continued to serve in cabinet, holding various portfolios, until December 2009, when she resigned over the sacking of Democratic Party leader Dr Terepai Maoate. Aunty Mau was re-elected at the 2010 and 2014 elections.
“She (Aunty Mau) has 22 years of service to the community both as a Democrat and a politician, as well as a lifelong devotion to her people,” the party said.
Beer, who has been a vocal member of the Democratic Party in his four-year term as an MP, lost his Murienua seat to the CIP’s Patrick Arioka.
“The valuable depth of knowledge and understanding of Cook Islands politics that James Beer has worked hard to
acquire cannot be understated and the party is grateful for his continuing long-term commitment,” the Demo statement said.
Having won 11 seats in the general election, the Democratic Party currently appears to be the frontrunner in forming a coalition government.

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