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Cook Islands could get first female leader

World News
Wed, 13 Jun 2018
AFP


Avarua, Cook Islands - Cook Islanders appeared in a political quandary Tuesday, two days out from a general election, as polls favoured Tina Browne to be their first female prime minister but opposed her Democratic Party running the country.

A survey in the small South Pacific island nation of 18,000 people gave opposition leader Browne 29 percent support as preferred leader.

The current prime minister, Henry Puna of the governing Cook Islands Party (CIP), received only 22 percent support in the poll, with 28 percent undecided.

Despite popular support for Browne, her pathway to the top was not guaranteed with Puna's CIP, which has served for two consecutive terms, marginally preferred to remain in power.

The Cook Islands News poll found 32 percent support for CIP, and 30 percent for Browne's Democratic Party with 15 percent undecided.

Browne said she was surprised by her personal support and the prospect of being the Cook Islands' first female leader.

"It is interesting that the fact that I am a female leader has become such a talking point," she said.

"I've led my own business and several organisations for some years so I hadn't necessarily thought of myself as a female leader but just as a leader.

The poll also revealed financial mismanagement and corruption were seen as the most pressing issues to face the incoming administration followed by health and infrastructure.

There are 58 candidates and a total of 24 seats up for grabs for the next four-year parliamentary term.