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APIA, Samoa (May 22, 1998 - PACNEWS/Ioane)--- The Samoa Observer no longer will attend government news conferences, which an editorial in the newspaper calls an "insufferable joke."

The news conferences, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Tuilaepa Malielegaoi and broadcast on national radio and television, frequently refer to local media as being uninformed, biased and lacking intelligence. At the same time, Malielegaoi usually refuses to answer questions on sensitive issues.

On once occasion he said The Observer is "being run by a bunch of fools," describing the publisher, Savea Sano Malifa, as "an opposition candidate" who is still angry at losing at the general elections.

In an editorial Thursday, the paper stated "it cannot continue to be a party to the mockery of justice being perpetrated in the guise of a press conference."

Several correspondents for overseas news agencies also have declined to attend recent news conferences.

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