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Confusion in Cooks over no confidence vote

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 21/06/2016

There's confusion in the Cook Islands following the opposition coalition's apparent ousting of Prime Minister Henry Puna.

Claiming that parliament had not been properly adjourned at the end of last week, opposition parties took advantage and resumed parliament on Tuesday (NZ time), calling a vote of no confidence in Mr Puna and his government, the Cook Islands News reports.

The opposition coalition had the numbers to topple Mr Puna, but it's yet to be determined whether the actions taken were within the law.

It appears two MPs from the ruling Cook Islands Party, Rose Brown and Albert Nicholas, have defected to the opposition.

Ms Brown could be in line to take over from Mr Puna and become the Cook Islands' first woman prime minister, if the no confidence motion is deemed legal.

The Cook Islands has a special relationship with New Zealand, being self-governing in free association.

That means Cook Islanders are New Zealand citizens, have New Zealand passports and use New Zealand currency.

The Cook Islands government is free to make its own laws and conduct its own affairs, but New Zealand remains responsible for defence and foreign policy.

A spokesman for Foreign Minister Murray McCully said New Zealand is following the situation in the Cook Islands, but it is ultimately a matter for the Cook Islands parliament to resolve.

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