January 24, 2019

Opposition MP to cross the floor to join Cook Islands Government

The youngest member of the Cook Islands Parliament, Democratic Party’s Tehani Brown is expected to cross the floors to join the government, reports Radio Cook Islands.

Deputy Leader of the ruling Cook Islands Party, Mark Brown said the Tengatangi-Areora-Ngatiarua MP has considered the move in the interest of the stability of the country.

“This provides our ruling Government of the day with the numbers to ensure a clear majority in the Parliament of the Cook Islands,” said the Deputy Prime Minister.

“Tehani herself as we know is a very independent young woman. She has shown a lot of promise as the youngest member of Parliament in the country and I think she has been underestimated quite a bit by the Democratic Party and she is very firm in her convictions to support the Government of the day, particularly because the people in her constituency have said that they are very happy with the work that is happening on their island and they want that to continue.

"For the Government to continue its work and they want her to represent them in Parliament with that support from the Government.”

Brown said he expects a challenge from the Democratic Party.

"I think it’s always been well-known that there’s been quite a few disruptions within the Democratic Party and they’ve had difficulty in maintaining their members and keeping unity within their own party. And I expect more members from the Democratic Party to be making movement to the Government of the day to ensure stability and to ensure the future development programs that the Cook Islands Government has in place continues without any interruption.”

On Monday, Democratic Party’s Agnes Armstrong was declared the winner of the Ivirua seat after the preliminary count. This led to a scenario when it looked like a hung parliament with 12 seats to the Democratic Party and 12 to the CIP coalition.

Brown is expected to make a statement on her move in the next couple of days.

However, the Democratic Party wants the Government to call parliament and prove their claims that Tehani Brown has gone over to the government side.

Democratic Party leader Tina Browne says the Democratic has not been informed by the young Atiu MP.

Browne told Radio Cook Islands she has heard of claims made by Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown.

"If this is true- then call Parliament.

Well we are going to wait because if the Deputy Prime Minister is serious there’s only one place to test that claim - call Parliament. Let’s go to Parliament and see who commands majority support otherwise don’t make any claims outside Parliament,” said Browne.


The Democratic Party says this claim is retaliation by CIP after losing out on the Ivirua seat, an attempt to disrupt the momentum the Democratic Party had built, “we can’t stop the DPM from making all sorts of claims, he’s obviously chosen to dampen our excitement and Aggies excitement about her win. It’s sad but I’m not surprised they’re putting pressure on the youngest member of Parliament, it’s sad because people like the DPM more or less is encouraging Tehani to break the law, party hop; it doesn’t make sense to me.”

Browne believes Ethane’s committee is a committed Democratic Party committee and doubts very much there is anything in the DPM's claim.

“There are legal avenues that is going to happen anyway, my understanding is that they will encourage her not to resign, the plan is a bit twisted, I’d rather see the plan first and the comment first before I respond,” said Browne.

On the bright side, Browne said Armstrong’s win is a historic moment in the nation’s parliamentary history as there are more women than ever, “it’s exciting for the Democratic Party, for the women of this country, for Aggie, and for me, and it’s really exciting. Agnes is coming to the Democratic Party with a whole lot of skills, she is going to add value. It may be she hasn’t been in the political arena but she comes with a wealth of knowledge and expertise in business and that’s a good thing,” said Browne.

SOURCE: RADIO COOK ISLANDS/PACNEWS
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