BITTER POLITICAL FEUD ENDS BETWEEN SAMOA PRIME

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MINISTER AND BIGGEST RIVAL

By Monica Miller

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (November 4, 1998 - AFP)---A prolonged political feud has been ended at the deathbed of Samoa's Prime Minister Tofilau Eti Alesana, reports said Wednesday.

Tofilau, 74, has been given days to live and his family from around the world has begun assembling in Apia.

The Samoa Post said that on Sunday, Tofilau met his bitter rival, opposition leader Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese, who was his predecessor as prime minister.

Death bed reconciliation meetings have particular power in Samoa's chiefly dominated politics with traditionalists often looking for a guide to what might come next.

There is no clear line of succession in the Human Rights Protection Party and Tofilau has never named a strong successor in his party.

Witnesses at the meeting said Tuiatua led his political grouping to the bedside where both sides broke down.

"Tofilau, I know I was the biggest source of pain for you while you were leading our government," Tuiatua was quoted as saying. "Please forgive me for being inconsiderate and not being sensitive to your suffering."

Tofilau replied he was happy they had cleared the differences.

The two men had been at each other's throats since Tofilau unseated Tupua in 1982.

Among those arriving in Apia was the newly re-elected American Samoan congressman Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin, who belongs to the same family, and Tofilau's nephew, American Samoa Governor Tauese Sunia.

Tofilau, the Pacific's longest serving leader, was born in American Samoa.

No official statements have been made but senior diplomatic sources said this week the end was likely "within days." Tofilau is believed to have liver cancer on top of a host of other serious ailments. He returned from medical treatment in New Zealand last week.

Michael J Field Agence France-Presse Auckland, New Zealand TEL: (64 21) 688-438 FAX: (64 21) 694-035 E-Mail: afp.nz@clear.net.nz WWW: http://www.afp.com/english/

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