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Court move against Atiu win

Friday March 29, 2019 Written by Published in National
Te-Hani Brown Te-Hani Brown

The Democratic Party has filed a petition against Te-Hani Brown’s win in the recent Tengatangi-Areora-Ngatiarua by-election on Atiu.

 

The seat was retained by the 23-year-old Brown, who stood as an independent candidate.  She defeated the Democratic Party’s Nandi Glassie with 80 votes. The veteran politician and former minister Glassie managed 50 votes.

The petition filed by Glassie was received by the registrar of the High Court on Wednesday.

In the petition, he alleges “gifts” were offered directly or indirectly by Brown and her agents in order to procure, or endeavour to procure, the votes of electors.

The Cook Islands Party, which supported Brown’s re-election into Parliament, lambasted the opposition Democratic Party

for filing the petition.

The governing party said it was hypocritical that Opposition leader Tina Brown travels to Fiji with the women parliamentarians and works to promote the role of women and especially young women, and to increase women in politics, while plotting the attempt to remove Brown from her seat.

“Such blatant hypocrisy must be challenged and we will vigorously challenge this in court, as once again the Democratic Party looks to win the seat not by the voice of the people, but by the determination of a court room and a judge,” CIP said in a statement.

“The Cook Islands Party will not sit back while this attack on our young women takes place and we will work to see Te-Hani Brown reinstated to stand and to represent the people of Atiu that voted for her and voted with a sizeable majority.”

Glassie in his petition also said George Taoro Brown and Minister Vainetutai Rose Toki-Brown were the electoral agents of the respondent. The two are Te-Hani’s parents.

“George Taoro Brown and the Honourable Minister Vainetutai Rose Toki-Brown canvassed for the respondent during the by-election. The respondent adopted the action of George Taoro Brown and the Honourable Minister Vainetutai Rose Toki-Brown as her own,” Glassie alleged in the petition.

He also alleged Taoro Brown and minister Toki-Brown directly or indirectly arranged and paid for a chartered aircraft to fly persons to Atiu.

Among the people flown to Atiu on the chartered aircraft were members of Cabinet and the executive council, including prime minister Henry Puna, deputy prime minister Mark Brown and ministers Vaine Mokoroa and George Angene, he alleged.

“The purpose of chartering the aircraft was in part political, namely to enable persons on board to procure or endeavour to procure the return of the respondent or the votes of the electors in the electorate.”

Glassie also claimed on the evening of March 15 a rally was held in support of the respondent (Te-Hani) on Atiu, adding the purpose of the rally was political, “namely to procure the return of the respondent”.

He claimed PM Puna, DPM Brown and ministers Mokoroa, Angene and Rose Toki-Brown spoke at the rally and encouraged those in attendance to vote for Te-Hani.

In the petition, he also listed the names of 51 electors who attended the rally.

“The honourable prime minister Henry Puna and the honourable deputy prime minister Mark Brown returned to Rarotonga on the chartered flight on 16 March 2019,” Glassie alleged.

“The Honourable Ministers Mokoroa, Angene and Toki-Brown remained on Atiu and canvassed for the respondent.

“The Hon. Prime Minister, the Hon. Deputy Prime Minister and the Hon. Ministers Mokoroa and Angene were electoral agents of the respondent, including by canvassing for the respondent and/or by making speeches at the campaign rally.

“The chartering of the flight was a gift or offer made to the Hon. Prime Minister, the Hon. Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon. Minister Mokoroa and the Hon. Minister Angene in order to induce those persons to procure or endeavour to procure the return of the respondent or the vote of electors in the electorate.

“Upon or in consequence of the chartered flight the Hon. Prime Minister, the Hon. Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon. Minister Mokoroa and the Hon. Minister Angene procured or endeavoured to procure the return of the respondent and the vote of electors.”