SAMOAN VILLAGERS VACATE DISPUTED LAND

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By Alan Ah Mu

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Nov. 26) - Satapuala villagers have vacated the part of Mulifanua Plantation they occupied, Police confirmed yesterday.

"They’ve long left," Assistant Commissioner of Police, Papali’i Li’o Taeu Masipa’u told the Sunday Samoan yesterday.

"In our observation there is nobody there any longer."

He said the village and Government have met and have negotiated a peaceful solution.

[PIR editor’s note: Villagers in the Samoan district of Satapuala have occupied land near the airport since earlier this month, saying it was taken from them during the German colonial period.]

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoli'ai Sa'ilele Malielegaoi and ‘matai’ [chief] of Satapuala met on 15 November.

Several days later, the Government issued a statement. It said, "A compromise has been reached whereby Satapuala village has agreed to vacate government property they have been occupying as their land claims, along with those of other villages concerning hinterland bordering government land, are being examined.

"Deliberations and consultations over the matter will continue."

Satapuala leader, Toalepaiali’i Toeolesulusulu Su’afaiga Siueva Pose Salesa III, couldn’t be reached by telephone yesterday.

But a member of his household said villagers left Mulifanua Plantation last week.

The huts they built and the crops they planted during the occupation are still there.

The village and Government is to form a committee for discussions which meets on 20 December.

A village ‘matai’ who did not want to be identified said Satapuala villagers are hopeful that a satisfactory solution is reached this time around. But he warned that the villagers would return to occupy the land if they are not happy with the solution.

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