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Former cabinet minister and family ordered to leave Vaimoso

APIA , Samoa ( Samoa Observer, March, 14, 2009) – A traditional apology (ifoga) presented by the family of Vaiotu Mulitalo Siafausa Vui to the village of Vaimoso yesterday was rejected.

The village council through a high-ranking matai (chief) instead ordered the former Cabinet Minister, his wife and children to leave the village.

Vaiotu is being punished for a string of indiscrepancies in his wife’s village.

"This man should have been banished a long time ago, he has ruined the village’s good reputation," Vaimoso spokesman, Aulavemai Tafito Selesele who is a former Member of Parliament, said after the ifoga was rejected.

Thirteen years ago, Vaiotu was ostracised because he called a village meeting. He was not the rightful authority to do so.

Recently, village spokespersons say he took part in the bestowal of the Manuleleua title on three persons. Again as a Vaiotu, especially one married into the village, he acted beyond his authority.

He has also been accused of brandishing a gun over a land dispute last year.

Two weeks ago, Vaiotu was banished from Vaimoso for "unfounded" statements he made to the media concerning the reason for his ostracism in 1999.

He refused to leave.

The village council then decided to mete a punishment called mu le foaga, where one’s house and belongings are burned.

Fortunately for him, ministers of religion and police intervened, after which the matter was referred to court.

Yesterday morning, Vice President of the Land and Titles Court, Misa Pita, advised both parties to review and reconcile the matter.

"You are making the Head of State sad," he said. "Tuiatua is a son of the village, you should reconcile and renew."

Vaiotu Mulitalo was ordered in court to apologise to the village, which he did. But the village did not accept his apology.

Vaimoso High Chief, Toma’agauaune Kelekolio II, requested the Court allow the village more time to discuss its advice, which the Court accepted.

While the villagers met in Vaimoso after leaving the Land and Titles Court, the whole Vaiotu family presented an ifoga (traditional apology).

But after the family and three clergymen sat in the blistering sun for almost two and a half hours waiting for a response, Aulavemai said the ifoga had been rejected.

The ultimate outcome: Vaiotu, his wife and children are banished from the village of Vaimoso. They must leave.

Aulavemai apologised to the servants of God assisting with the ifoga, but said the decision stands.

He said the family should have apologised long ago for Mulitalo’s actions.

"How many times has this man shamed the village?" he asked Melei, a high chief of the Vaiotu family.

"Why didn’t you advise this man (Mulitalo)?" Aulavemai demanded.

Reverend Elder Peteru Tone, on behalf of the Vaiotu family, pleaded for reconsideration.

"I beg you to please accept our apology," he said.

"We know we should have done this a long time ago, but we hesitated out of nervousness.

"We have been waiting for an appropriate opportunity like today to offer our apology," Rev. Elder Tone said.

Aulavemai would not budge.

"This man should have been banished a long time ago, he has ruined the village’s good reputation," he said.

"That is the village decision and it’s final."

The decision may not be permanent though.

Aulavemai hinted at the possibly of reconciliation once Vaiotu honours the village’s decision to banish him from the village.

Samoa Observer:

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