SAMOA PM TUILAEPA CLARIFIES STAND ON OVERSEAS VOTERS

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By Mathew F. Lemisio

APIA, Samoa (February 22, 2001 - Samoa Observer/PINA Nius Online)---Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi yesterday made clear why he’s opposed to overseas Samoans voting and running in the local general elections until after they’ve lived in Samoa for three years.

"They don’t understand and they don’t feel the pain of serving Samoa day in and day out," Tuilaepa said during his address launching the Human Rights Protection Party manifesto.

He said he was worried that outsiders would end up electing MPs for Parliament if overseas Samoans were allowed to vote.

"There are more Samoans residing overseas than those residing here," he said.

"So if they get to vote, our MPs will be elected by outsiders and the worst is that Parliament might as well be moved from Mulinuu to Canberra."

Opposition Leader Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi totally disagrees. He made this clear during his address launching the Samoa National Development Party (SNDP) manifesto in Savaii last Friday.

"Samoans residing overseas have contributed a lot to the economy of Samoa through remittances," Tuiatua said. "Most of us have received new cars, been able to build new houses because of monies from our overseas relatives.

"But now the government has denied these people’s right to have their say heard in the country by disallowing them from voting in the March 2 elections through the introduction of the new three year residency law,"

Tuiatua added.

Five Samoan matai took the matter to court and were turned down. They have since appealed the court ruling.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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