Cook Islands in political turmoil but QR siding with status quo

The Cook Islands' opposition coalition has failed to overthrow Prime Minister Henry Puna.


Prime Minister Henry PunaEarlier this week, the Pacific island was plunged into political chaos after opposition parties called a vote of no confidence in Mr Puna and his government.


Queen’s Representative in the Cook Islands, Tom Marsters, stepped in issuing a vice regal ruling, saying parliament had been properly adjourned on June 17th.


The opposition, initially used what they believed was an error in standing orders from the week before, claimed the Speaker had not closed the last parliamentary session properly.


The opposition reportedly called a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Henry Puna's government, arguing parliament was not properly closed on the 17th of June by Speaker Nikki Rattle.


Marsters read a statement on local radio stating his view.


The opposition had been seeking his approval for their supposed vote of no confidence in the government of Henry Puna on Monday.


The Cook Islands Finance Minister Mark Brown said what he calls a 'stunt' by the opposition could lead to them being charged with treason.


Brown called the opposition's act a farcical exercise that could become criminal if the opposition persisted, and Mr Marsters has agreed.


The Cook Islands holds a unique status with New Zealand - independent but with "free association". It's not yet clear how any change in government would affect that.


It's a status that leaves New Zealand responsible for defence and foreign policy in consultation with the Cook Islands' government.


Under the arrangement its citizens are entitled to New Zealand passports and free access to work, in contrast with other Pacific nations with close links to New Zealand, such as Samoa and Tonga, both of which face quotas.


Last year, a push by Puna to gain a seat at the United Nations failed to take off as New Zealand warned the price it would pay would be the loss of New Zealand citizenship.