Cooks’ PM vows to change law as parliament delayed by petitions

Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown
Mark Brown

The new Cook Islands Parliament has still not held a sitting, despite its general election taking place more than five months ago.

It will not sit until March at the earliest.

The country is waiting for the outcome of the election’s final petition hearing, a situation the Prime Minister Mark Brown said was an anomaly.

“It makes a mockery of the separation of powers. Parliament should be able to sit once MPs have been confirmed and gazetted by the chief electoral officer.

“Any petition or challenge is a matter for the judiciary to deal with separately outside of parliament and parliament should be able to conduct its business despite petitions being heard,” he told RNZ Pacific.

Brown said, once Parliament is in session, he will look to remove the clause which prevents it from sitting until all petitions are resolved.

Five electoral petitions and one application for a recount were filed at the High Court in August 2022.

In the election, held on 1 August, the ruling Cook Islands Party won 12 seats and is able to govern with the help of two independents.

The Democratic Party won five seats, the United Party took three and the One Cook Islands Movement gaining one seat. Both main opposition parties lost a seat between the preliminary count on 1 August and the final count on 10 August.

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