BY-ELECTION, GOOD TURN FOR PENRHYN, COOK ISLANDS, SAYS NEW MP RASMUSSEN

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By Charlene Thompson

AVARUA, Rarotonga, Cook Islands (July 3, 3003 – Cook Islands News)---Penrhyn's newly elected Member of Parliament Wilkie Rasmussen says he is "very, very happy" with the outcome of last Thursday's by-election on the northern atoll.

The election was a close call for Rasmussen who won by seven votes against the only other candidate -- the island's former MP Tepure Tapaitau.

Rasmussen says he will consult with his constituency, including the elders, in a bid to get a more general input on how the island may be developed and he sees a lot of support coming from them.

"My role as a Member of Parliament is to look at Penrhyn's needs and try to meet those needs," he said from Penrhyn yesterday.

"I think people are now happy and quite relieved that the election is over. I have a sense that a lot of people believe that this election is a good turn for them," he says.

This is the fourth time that Rasmussen has stood as a candidate for Penrhyn. The first was in 1985 when then-MP Sir Tangaroa Tangaroa relinquished his seat and was appointed Queen's Representative.

Rasmussen returns to Rarotonga this Saturday where he will meet with CIP leader Sir Geoffrey Henry and the CIP executive.

He will then meet with Prime Minister Dr. Robert Woonton and "make arrangements for my office and matters relating to Parliament," he says.

He says he will do his best to improve things on Penrhyn and thanks the people of Penrhyn, his supporters and friends for their support.

RASMUSSEN DECLARED WINNER IN PENRHYN

By Moana Moeka'a

AVARUA, Rarotonga, Cook Islands (July 3, 3003 – Cook Islands News)---Cook Islands Party candidate Wilkie Rasmussen has been declared the Member of Parliament for Penrhyn after last Thursday's by-election.

A declaration of the by-election result by the deputy Chief Electoral Officer, Nooapii Tearea, has Rasmussen with 112 votes -- seven ahead of the independent candidate, Tepure Tapaitau.

On election night, Rasmussen had a four vote lead over his opponent -- 104 votes to 100.

"Pursuant to Section 73 of the Electoral Act 1998, I, Nooapii Tearea, Deputy Chief Electoral Officer, hereby declare that the successful candidate duly elected in the Penrhyn by-election held on the 27th day of June 2002 is as follows -- Wilkie Olaf Patua Rasmussen as Member of Parliament for the Penrhyn constituency," read yesterday afternoon's gazette notice.

Candidates have until next Monday to file a petition or counter-petition on the declaration of the result.

During the weekend, a media release from the leader of the Cook Islands Party, and deputy Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Henry, which was broadcast on national radio, dispelled rumors of Rasmussen "stepping down" as a "vicious form of political disinformation."

Earlier this month, Rasmussen resigned as the country's High Commissioner to New Zealand, in order to contest the by-election.

It is fourth time lucky for Rasmussen, who first contested the seat in 1985.

For additional reports from the Cook Islands News Online, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Cook Islands News Online.

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