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Forum team to observe Cook Islands elections

Forum team to observe Cook Islands elections

PRESS STATEMENT 114/10

16th November 2010

A team of observers representing the Pacific Islands Forum has arrived in the Cook Islands to observe its General Elections, which will be held on Wednesday 17 November 2010.

“We were very pleased that the Government of Cook Islands agreed to the Forum Secretariat sending a team to observe its general elections,” said Tuiloma Neroni Slade, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

“The Forum is committed to working with member countries to observe and support their electoral processes in accordance with Leaders’ commitments to good governance and the principles of the Biketawa Declaration.”

The team has already met with relevant senior government officials from the Cook Islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Ministry of Justice, the Chief Electoral Officer, and the Commissioner of Police, as well as representatives of the Cook Islands National Council of Women. The observer team is also scheduled to meet with the presidents of the two main political parties - the Democratic Party and the Cook Islands Party - over the next two days, as well as representatives of Civil Society Organisations in the Cook Islands.

The team will divide into three groups and cover elections held on the islands of Rarotonga, Aitutaki and Mangaia respectively. The Forum observers will seek to gain a broad overview of the environment in which the elections will take place - the preparations for the election, the polling, the counting and the results process, and the overall electoral environment.

Following the elections, the team will provide a report to the Secretary General of the Forum Secretariat, the Government of Cook Islands and election authorities of the Cook Islands.

The team observing the General Elections in the Cook Islands is led by Mr Walter Rigamoto, former Ombudsman and former Head of Elections for Fiji.

The Forum observer team will remain in the Cook Islands until 21 November 2010.

This will be the fourth Forum election observation team deployed in 2010. Forum teams observed elections in Nauru in April, Bougainville in May and Solomon Islands in August of this year.

ENDS

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