SAMOA GOVERNMENT LOSES SOME SEATS, NOW NEGOTIATIONS BEGIN

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APIA, Samoa (March 4, 2001 - PINA Nius Online)---The Human Rights Protection Party government of Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi lost ground in the Samoan general elections Friday but it appears to be emerging as the major winner.

[Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi regained his Parliamentary seat. Tuilaepa received 439 votes compared to challenger Talaifono Liko, who won only 85 votes.

Samoa's opposition leader, Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi, also regained his seat, receiving 930 votes over his challenger, Savea Savelio, with 434 votes.]

Intense negotiations are now under way with independent candidates who won seats and this will determine the final shape of the new government. Many seats were won by very narrow margins and there could be numerous challenges to the results in the days ahead.

Provisional results gave the Human Rights Protection Party 23 seats in the 49-seat parliament, a loss of 10.

The main opposition party, the Samoa National Development Party, gained four seats to hold a provisional 13 seats. Independents provisionally hold the other 13 seats.

Tuilaepa is now expected to try to strongly woo enough independents to ensure that the Human Rights Protection Party continues to maintain its long hold on power.

But margins in some seats could be in single figures.

An opposition Samoa National Development Party candidate and former speaker of parliament, Aeau Peni, provisionally beat Agriculture Minister Mafasolia Papu by just three votes.

He won even though their village council ruled that he should not stand against Mafasolia.

The bad weather caused by Cyclone Paula delayed the return of some ballot boxes. It also prevented some flights from neighboring American Samoa bringing Samoans back from there to cast their votes.

Samoans have to return home to vote.

The opposition, led by the Samoa National Development Party, highlighted an anti-corruption campaign. It said it would call inquiries into such issues as the sale of passports and the sale and lease of government land.

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

 

TUILAEPA AND TUIATUA RE-ELECTED IN SAMOA ELECTION

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (March 3, 2001 - PIDP/CPIS)--Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi regained his Parliamentary seat during Samoa's general election on Friday. Tuilaepa received 439 votes compared to his sole challenger, Talaifono Liko, of the Lepa District, who won only 85 votes.

Samoa's opposition leader, Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi, also regained his seat, in Anoamaa Sasae District, receiving 930 votes over his challenger, Savea Savelio, with 434 votes.

Election results from voting booths arrived at Samoa's election office before 5:00 p.m. and results were read on Televise Samoa and Radio 2AP. As of 2:30 a.m. Saturday, counting continues.

Officials said from Samoa's capital of Apia, that the delay is due to bad weather creating havoc for election officials taking ballot boxes from outlining villages to the main election office in town.

Election officials on Samoa's big island of Savaii also encountered bad weather, which delayed the arrival of ballot boxes at the main election office.

More than 100 voters, supporters, tourists and a few journalists were stranded here on Friday when Samoa Air and Polynesian Airlines grounded their flights and closed the air-route between the two Samoas due to high winds and heavy rain in Samoa.

American Samoa journalists, returned to their respective offices and depended on Radio 2AP and other journalists in Samoa to get election results.

 

SAMOA FACING INSTABILITY AS ELECTION PRODUCES INCONCLUSIVE RESULT

APIA, Samoa (March 4, 2001 – Agence France-Presse)---Samoa was facing political instability Saturday after the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) was returned to office but with less than half of the seats in the Fono or Legislative Assembly following general elections Friday.

HRPP has suffered an electoral massacre with six cabinet ministers tossed out and 25 new MPs in a Fono of 49 seats.

But in what is a customary feature of Samoan elections, many of the winning candidates hold thin majorities that are inevitably challenged in the Electoral Court, which often overturns election night results.

Unofficial election night results give Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele’s HRPP 23 seats. The Samoa National Development Party (SNDP), led by former prime minister Tupua Tamasese Efi, has 13 seats and independents hold 13.

Traditionally, both parties spend the next several weeks luring independents into their camps, but it appears HRPP has an advantage already. One of the new independents, Vang Sung Chan, is a brother-in-law of the prime minister. Another new MP, Tofilau Tauvaga, holds the matai or chiefly title of the late HRPP founder and prime minister, Tofilau Eti Alesana.

Those two would give HRPP a bare majority and well down on the 36 seats they held in the last Fono.

Women have done very badly in a system that gives everybody over the age of 21 a vote, but only matai can be MPs. Only three women have made it, Fiame Naomi and new comers Fagafagamanualitia McCarthy and Safuneituuga.

Fiame, Education Minister in the last government, is expected to command the deputy premiership in the new government. Her father, Mata’afa Fiame, was prime minister of Samoa at the time of independence in 1962.

Among the defeated women was Maiava Visekota, a sitting MP and widow of Works Minister Luagalau Levaula Kamu, who was assassinated 18 months ago in an inter-HRPP fight, which eventually saw two cabinet ministers convicted of murder. The New Zealand born lawyer was once tipped as a potential prime minister.

The election, the first in five years, will be a blow to Tupua Tamasese who, as Tupuola Efi, was prime minister for two terms to 1981 when HRPP began their rule. He is a traditional royal chief in Samoa and easily won his constituency. Failure to win this time will likely end his political ambitions but it is expected that when the life-term Head of State, Malietoa Tanumafili II, dies the post will go to Tupua Tamasese. Malietoa, another royal chief, has been head of state since 1962.

SNDP had fought a campaign based around claims that HRPP were corrupt and that their members had been involved in illegal operations around state-owned Polynesian Airlines. The sacking of a government auditor was at times an issue while the assassination was mentioned.

However elections in Samoa are intensely local, built around aiga or extended family, chiefly status and the ability of candidates to deliver benefits back directly to his aiga and village. Although bribery and treating is explicitly outlawed in the Electoral Act, the traditional customs of fa’a Samoa or the Samoan way ensure that the line is often crossed. Those that have gone too far usually end up losing their seat on electoral petitions before the court.

Another royal chief, Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II, was defeated in his bid to enter parliament by sitting HRPP member Misa Telefoni. Misa had called for the election to be postponed after discovering very high enrollments in his seat.

Voters in Falealupo, at the western end of Samoa and thus the last place in the world to see the end of each day, have elected Aeau Peniamina who defied village chiefs and ran for office. The chiefs had wanted another candidate, Agriculture Minister Mafasolia Papu, returned unopposed.

Michael Field New Zealand/South Pacific Correspondent Agence France-Presse E-mail: afp.nz@clear.net.nz  Phone: (64 21) 688438 Fax: (64 21) 694035 Website: http://www.afp.com/english/ 

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