AMERICAN SAMOA SENATE CHALLENGED ON OUSTER

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (RNZI, Jan. 29) - A lawyer representing Sen. Faamausili Pola says the Senate is acting without regard for the territory’s legal system after its latest moves to expel Pola.

Charles Ala’ilima says the Senate disregarded a high court ruling to reinstate Faamausili after he was ousted from office last year.

The High court ruled that Faamausili’s ousting was unconstitutional because the Senate did not have a two-thirds majority.

He was ousted after some chiefs from his Manu’a district claimed that he was not properly elected according to Samoan tradition.

The Senate, which is appealing the high court ruling, held a second vote in order to secure a two-thirds majority needed to expel Faamausili.

Ala’ilima says the Senate has shown no respect for the territory’s judiciary.

"They have acted as if the court order had no standing or had no impact on their actions at least at the beginning of this current session. They did not put him on the role of senators, they have not paid him and so I had to take some action in that regard to ensure they respect the court order," said Ala’ilima.

He adds that the three appeals court judges are expected to rule on the Senate’s appeal within the next two days.

Meanwhile, in a separate move, the Senate will vote Thursday on a resolution to hold an expulsion hearing over Faamausili.

If approved, Faamausili would be the first member of the American Samoa Legislature to face expulsion charges.

January 29, 2003

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

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