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Coalition option ‘attractive’: PM Puna
9:18 pm GMT+12, 18/01/2015, Cook Islands

Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna says he is not ruling out any political options in 2015 – including working with the Opposition to form a coalition Government with the Democratic Party.
 
In a rare interview with CINews last week Puna says he has made it very clear that the country will not go back to the polls.
 
“Whether we will form a coalition government is a critical question we are exploring.
 
“It is an attractive option, as it would bring the community back together for the 50th anniversary celebrations – we are not ruling out anything yet.”
 
Democratic Party leader Wilkie Rasmussen recently described the PM’s views on a possible coalition government as “too little, too late”.
 
But asked whether he would be comfortable working with certain Democratic Party personalities – some of which have publically called Puna ‘desperate’ and called for his resignation, he says the verbal attacks would not put him off looking at a coalition.
 
“It depends what is available at the time.”
 
Puna says political reform will be at the forefront of issues for 2015.
 
“We will need to form a basis for this, as I am sure every party has their own ideas and opinions.”
 
The PM says he does not want to discuss details, such as whether smaller constituencies will be brought together to represent more people.
 
The Mitiaro seat caused havoc in last year’s election, with the Government depending on the seat to form a majority in a seat that only represents about 100 voters.
 
Puna says he is keen to get over to Aitutaki as the Vaiape/Tautu by-election looms.  
 
Cook Islands Party candidate Mona Ioane was last month found by the Court of Appeal to have treated and bribed a voter, thereby sparking the controversial by-election, but Puna says he still has complete confidence in the success of Ioane’s campaign to be re-elected.
 
“If the Court thought the allegations were that serious, they would have referred the case to the police. But they didn’t, which highlights the low degree of severity.”
 
Despite the turbulent political situation, Puna says his Government is looking ahead to a year of major legislative change.
 
“We will be introducing both the Family Law Bill and the New Crime Act to tidy up the criminal implications for violence in homes.  
 
“Domestic abuse continues to be a big issue for us.”
 
He is also well aware of the rise in petty crime on the island, and says people’s concerns have not gone unnoticed.


SOURCE: COOK ISLANDS NEWS/PACNEWS


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