Cook Islands Democratic Party Defends Failed Election Petitions

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Rasmussen: Challenges not ‘waste of time and money’ but democracy

By Emmanuel Samoglou

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Sept. 20, 2014) – With five of their petitions dismissed, the Democratic Party has not lost their fighting spirit, says party leader Wilkie Rasmussen.

The Demos currently occupy only a third of Parliament with eight seats, and their hopes at gaining ground through the courts have been greatly diminished.

Despite the setbacks, Rasmussen says the Demos are not at all discouraged by the results of the petitions so far, and are still hopeful of forming a government in the very near future.

On Friday, the party issued a statement in response to comments by Atiu Members of Parliament Nandi Glassie and Rose Toki Brown, who both said the Demo petitions have been an unnecessary burden on the country.

"As the Leader of our organisation, I am dismissive of comments by Cook Islands Party MP’s Nandi Glassie, Rose Brown and Mark Brown that the petitions have all been a waste of time and money".

From the Demo point-of-view, Rasmussen said the petition process is "part and parcel of elections in the Cook Islands" and the sight of a robust democracy and legal system which provides a vehicle "… for those aggrieved to put forward their grievances."

To illustrate his point, Rasmussen attempted to provide some historical context.

"If we go back into history, the overturning of the Albert Henry Government in 1978 was through the Court and it was a timely, positive intervention by the Court to the grounds raised by the Democratic Party of deep set corruption that was eroding away the fundamentals of a free democratic society," he said.

While admitting that the current status of the political environment is different from that earlier era, Rasmussen said "… the notion of proper accounting, transparent and responsible use of taxpayers money and indeed less wasteful governing is still very much alive and that is why the Democratic Party is fighting with all it can to win government." "The shallowness of the comments by some of the Government MP’s goes to show a lack of respect for the public and for what the people of the Cook Islands expects and deserves," he said. "Unfortunately, at least in my view we are seeing a decline in standards of political understanding and a taking for granted that all is well with Government, and no-one should criticize it or take it to Court if it needs be," said Rasmussen.

Despite the setbacks, the Party has opportunities to make some ground on the CIP; most immediately with an expected decision on a petition filed in Tamarua, and later this year through a by-election in Mitiaro.

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