Uncertainty Reigns On Eve Of Cook Islands Parliamentary Session

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Both Democrats and Cook Islands Party courting One Cook Islands MPs

By Emmanuel Samoglou

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Oct. 7, 2014) – Discussions last week between Prime Minister Henry Puna and One Cook Islands Leader Teina Bishop on a possible power sharing arrangement yielded no tangible results, with each side placing blame on the other.

Both leaders met at the Offices of the Prime Minister last Thursday evening, where – in the words of Bishop – the two "ironed out their interests".

According to Puna’s advisor Trevor Pitt, Bishop attended after meeting with the Democratic Party earlier in the day, and "wanted to hear what the major parties were willing to offer".

Coalition chatter has been running rampant in the lead-up to tomorrow’s scheduled sitting of Parliament.

Barring any last minute changes, 12 Cook Islands Party MP’s will be walking into Parliament with a working majority.

The Democratic Party and OCI hold the balance of power with nine and two MP’s respectively.

With the CIP’s fragile majority, political players from all parties have been working overtime to solidify their position and consolidate power.

[PIR editor’s note: Cook Islands News reported that ‘Possible coalition partners, One Cook Islands and the Democratic Party, have shrugged off Prime Minister Henry Puna’s allegations that they are destabilising the Cook Islands Party-led government.’]

During their meeting, Puna said he took Bishop to task for allegedly not keeping a commitment made prior to July’s general elections.

"One of the issues raised was the question over why Bishop had not stuck to his word that he would support the party, which had the majority numbers, and would be in a position to pass a budget and support a confidence vote," reads a statement issued by Pitt.

In June, Bishop said OCI’s elected MP’s would support the victorious party on issues of confidence, budgetary matters, and obtaining the necessary quorum in Parliament.

However, that support was conditional and would only be given to the party that would adhere to OCI principles.

Pitt said OCI would be expected to lend the support of its two MP’s to the governing CIP, however the upstart political ‘movement’ has been openly courting both political parties.

Yesterday, Bishop acknowledged the meeting with Puna and claimed he met the PM with an agenda that was "open to anything".

"We talked about the past, and ironed out our interests," he said.

Bishop said the get-together was to be followed up the next day with a 9am morning meeting between both the CIP and OCI caucuses.

While OCI was present with its elected members and Party officials, Bishop said the only elected members of the CIP were Aitutaki MP Mona Ioane and Atiu MP Rose Toki Brown.

"The Prime Minister did not even turn up for the meeting," he said.

Despite meeting with the PM, Bishop said OCI is leaning on offering its support to the Democratic Party.

"Let me make it clear, OCI has a partnership arrangement with the Demo Party, which is very attractive," he said. "At the moment, that appears to be the partnership we will nurture."

Yesterday, Acting Leader of the Opposition William Heather – Demo MP for Ruaau - re-iterated his Party’s interest in forming a coalition government with OCI.

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