Flowers, Drums End Cook Islands Election

Reuters

The leader of Cook Islands marked his election victory with flowers and drums on Friday, but one of his ministers headed for defeat for trying to bring a McDonald's to one of the most isolated spots in the Pacific.

Triumphant Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Henry said an opposition campaign highlighting allegations of corruption and financial mismanagement had little impact on the 11,000 voters in the 15-island group that stretches over thousands of square miles of ocean south of Hawaii.

People were more concerned about health, education and jobs than charges of tax-haven swindles and mismanagement of the construction of a $50-million Sheraton Hotel, he said.

Minister of Marine Resources Ben Toma lost the island constituency of Manihiki by five votes, but may win it back when special and postal votes are counted.

Toma had campaigned to bring the McDonald's hamburger chain to the remote island, five hours flying time from Rarotonga.

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