Recount For Cook Islands Final Parliamentary Seat Ordered

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By-election ballots set aside, original votes in Mitiaro recounted

By Phillipa Webb

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Nov. 29, 2014) – The Cook Islands’ Chief Justice has struck off a vote in the Mitiaro electorate and ordered a recount.

The outcome of July’s general election has been uncertain for months with several petitions and appeals being lodged and a by-election held but not counted after a tie in the seat of Mitiaro.

Chief Justice Thomas Weston says one vote has now been deleted as the voter did not meet the qualification requirements.

He did not specify who the person had voted for.

One of the candidates, Tangata Vavia, of the Democratic Party, says a date has also been penciled in by the courts to hear various petitions relating to the Mitiaro seat.

"A tentative date of 8 December has been set to hear those petitions and whatever the outcome is - we will not know until that time."

The Deputy Registrar of the court said a recount of the Mitiaro votes would be done yesterday, on order by the Chief Justice.

An announcement on the recount will be made next week upon the return of the Chief Electoral Officer from overseas.

Depending on the result of the recount, an outcome will finally be announced on who has won the Mitiaro seat, or a decision between the Judge and Counsel will be made to re-hear the electoral petition.

This follows a decision by the Court of Appeal to uphold a counter-petition submitted by the Cook Islands Party.

On Election Day Tuakeu Tangatapoto of the Cook Islands Party and the island’s previous MP, Tangata Vavia of the Democratic Party each received 50 votes.

But Vavia lodged a petition with the High Court, claiming Tangatapoto committed acts of bribery and treating in the election run-up.

The Cook Islands Party lodged an appeal against the decision with their own counter petition.

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