Cook Islands parliament shut amidst political turmoil

  • 22/06/2016
Prime Minister Henry Puna (AAP)
Prime Minister Henry Puna (AAP)

Parliament is shut and political chaos reigns in the Cook Islands after an attempted overthrow of the government by the opposition coalition.

On Monday opposition members made a vote of no confidence while the Prime Minister Henry Puna was overseas.

The opposition used what they believe was an error in standing orders from the week before, claiming the Speaker didn't close the last parliamentary session properly.

Deputy Speaker Rose Brown, who crossed the floor in the vote, could be the first female Prime Minister of the Cook Islands if the Queen's representative decides to approve the vote of no confidence.

Local journalist Florence Syme-Buchanan told Newshub a number of government MPs were absent when the vote took place on Monday.

She says the opposition members believe parliament should have continued to sit without the government MPs.

On Tuesday (local time) the Clerk of Parliament would not permit the opposition to consult or meet with the Speaker of the House Niki Rattle.

"There is security outside the parliament building to prevent the opposition from sitting again today," Ms Syme-Buchanan says.

A decision is pending from the Queen's representative, who is taking advice on the legality of the oppositions political machinations.

Government MPs have called the overthrow attempt an act of treason.

"There was a 'mock' parliament that was held this afternoon with the proceedings being conducted by Norman George from the public gallery," Finance Minister Mark Brown told Cook Islands News.

"Any attempts by the opposition to attempt an actual overthrow of government will be viewed seriously, as this could border on treason.

"I'm not surprised by this move as last night was a full moon and people do strange things at full moon," he said.