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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, Feb. 8) – Voters in the outer island of Manihiki in the Cook Islands go to the polls in a by-election this morning to elect their member of parliament. The seat became vacant after former Prime Minister Robert Woonton agreed to step down if a court challenge over his win was withdrawn by the other candidate, Cook Islands party president, Henry Puna. 

Yesterday, the two presiding officers flew to Manihiki with ballot papers just in time for the by-election. The officers were due to fly out last Thursday but Air Rarotonga delayed the flight until yesterday due to cyclone Meena. 

Voting will begin this morning for the 220 registered voters at the two polling stations at Tauhunu and Tukao. Mr Puna is contesting the seat against the Democratic Party’s Apii Piho. 

Election results should be known by tonight.

February 9, 2005

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

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