During these tough times, a nation needs strong leadership – Mark Brown and his new Cabinet members have stepped up to take on the challenge.
Mark Brown is the new Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, the tenth person to hold the nation’s highest position of leadership since the country became self –governing in 1965.
Brown was appointed the new leader after Henry Puna resigned from the job to contest for the role of Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum.
However, the official swearing-in ceremony at Government House late yesterday afternoon almost didn’t take place after objection from the Democratic Opposition Party earlier in Parliament.
Opposition leader Tina Browne and Titikaveka MP Sel Napa argued that proper parliamentary procedure for the vote of confidence in the new Prime Minister was not followed.
Parliament was suspended twice to review the matter before the Opposition MPs walked out of a meeting held under the directive of Queen’s Representative Sir Tom Marsters.
Tina Browne later said: “The Opposition could have pursued the issue, but chose not to. We felt we had made our point; Parliament and the Speaker are required at all times to follow the rules that are entrenched in the Constitution and Standing Orders.
“If Parliament fails to follow its own rules, fails to adhere to the Standing Orders and Constitution, then it is failing to democratically deliver on its duties.
“The Democratic Party Opposition firmly believes that the integrity of our Parliament must be upheld, even if the government doesn’t agree with us on that point,” she said.
Despite the delay, there was jubilation as a large group of supporters and dignitaries gathered at Government House to witness what was described as a momentous occasion in the country’s history.
Prime Minister Mark Brown and his Cabinet took the Oath of Allegiance while holding the Bible and were issued with their warrants during a formal ceremony officiated by the Queen’s Representative, His Excellency Sir Tom Marsters.
MP for Tongareva Robert Tapaitau will assume the role of Deputy Prime Minister. Rose Toki-Brown, Vaine (Mac) Mokoroa, George Angene and incoming Minister Patrick Arioka will be allocated with their portfolios in the coming days.
Sir Tom Marsters, while addressing the crowd emphasised that what had happened earlier in the day in Parliament was part of the “principles of democracy”.
“This should not be viewed as negative, rather an example of doing things properly,” he said.
Following the formalities, Sir Tom congratulated the new Prime Minister and said he had every confidence in Brown’s ability to lead the country.
Sir Tom also took the opportunity to wish his good friend and colleague, former Prime Minister Henry Puna, a man he said had made history by being the first leader to step down of his own accord, to make way for a new generation of leadership.
The Government MPs then returned to Parliament and new PM Mark Brown pledged to continue the “good work of this government”.
Brown also praised Henry Puna for making way for a new generation of leadership, calling the move “maturity in our politics” which he said “is lacking in the other side of the House”.
Parliament was been adjourned sine die.