SAMOA CHIEF BANNED FROM VILLAGE FOR WANTING TO RUN FOR POLITICAL OFFICE

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By Fili Sagapolutele

APIA, Samoa (January 20, 2001 - PIDP/CPIS)---Former Speaker of the Samoa Parliament Aeau Peniamina Leavai is facing serious consequences for wanting to run for Parliament against the wishes of his village in the upcoming March General Election.

The Falealupo village council issued a public statement on government media, Radio 2AP and Television Samoa, last week stating that Chief Aeau, his children and other members of his family are banned from Falealupo.

The council issued the statement after Aeau refused to accept the council’s advice not to run for Parliament and allow incumbent Solia Papu Vaai to return unopposed. Solia is the present Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The Electoral Office of Samoa declined to comment when asked if they will still accept an application from Aeau. Efforts by Pacific Islands Report to reach Chief Aeau for comments were unsuccessful.

However, he told the Samoa Observer that the decision is illegal and invalid.

A Falealupo chief watching the registration of voters in the country’s capital told Pacific Islands Report on Friday that the former speaker has no choice but to accept the council’s decision. He would not comment further when asked to comment about the individual’s rights to run for office, which is guaranteed by Samoa’s constitution.

Another Falealupo chief, identified as Siliala‘ei Titi, is quoted by the Samoa Observer as saying that the council’s decision is final and Aeau refused to accept the council’s request not to run for office this year but to wait for the next term.

A dentist by profession, Aeau was elected to Parliament from 1985 to 1990. He served as Speaker from 1988 until his term in office ended in 1990.

Falealupo, a coastal village on the western tip of Savai‘i with a population of more than 500, captured international attention when the village council prohibited a Bible study group from conducting services in the village.

 

SAMOA VOTER REGISTRATION CLOSED

By Fili Sagapolutele

APIA, Samoa (January 20, 2001 - PIDP/CPIS)---With Samoa’s general elections now set for March 2, the country’s eligible but unregistered voters did a "mad rush" to the Electoral Office to register and obtain voter identification cards.

Last Friday was the final day to register to vote. Despite the valiant efforts of the Electoral Office over the last two months, including being open on Saturdays, many local voters waited until last week to register, visiting the Electoral Office in droves.

Constantly falling rain on Friday did not discourage the eligible voters from standing under a tent and waiting patiently for long hours to enter the Electoral Offices to register.

Despite an occasional flare-up, the crowds patiently but slowly moved forward into the office building at Mulinu‘u, across from Parliament, to be photographed for their ID card and complete other formalities.

"I have been here since 6:00 a.m.," said a 55-year old woman from Aleipata district who came by bus last Friday and waited some three hours with her husband to register to vote. "We will remain here until we are registered."

Others waiting pointed out that the government should have set up temporary registration facilities in the back villages of Samoa to prevent long travel times and also to alleviate the long lines at the main Electoral Office.

After registration closed last Friday, the unofficial voter count stood at more than 90,000 people, with the final tally to become available later this week.

In the meantime, American Samoa’s Election Office has been reminding territorial voters that they cannot also vote in Samoa elections.

Once the Samoa election is over, Chief Election Officer Soliai T. Fuimaono will send his staff to Samoa to find out if any American Samoan voters cast ballots in Samoa.

Samoa officials confirmed that there are people residing in American Samoa who have registered to vote in Samoa. Those that showed up to register provided Samoa passports and other Samoa identifications.

The upcoming election is already becoming the main topic of local discussion in Samoa, particularly on the issue of political strategies developed by various candidates for Parliament.

A new political party already has registered for the upcoming election under Samoa’s new election laws, which have been spearheaded by the country’s ruling Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP).

Under the new laws, all political parties must hand in a list of names of at least 100 financial backers before the parties can be recognized by law.

Launched last year, the Samoa Nation Party has 300 members. The top opposition party, the Samoa National Development Party (SNDP) headed by Member of Parliament Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi, announced last week that the SNDP is also now officially registered with 100 members.

The HRPP also registered their party in time for election.

The Samoa Parliament is in its final and last session before the March election.

Candidates for office have until mid February to register their candidacies.

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