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Nine parliamentarians illegally form new party

By Lance Polu

APIA, Samoa (Talamua, May 29, 2009) - Nine MPs who have recently formed themselves into the Tautua Party have been disqualified and will face by-elections. The decision by Samoas Speaker of Parliament, Tolofuaivalelei Falemoe was delivered as the budget session came to a close this morning. The MPs include interim Chairman, Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi, former Ministers Palusalue Faapo and Vaai Papu Vaai, Levaopolo Talatonu Afoa, Taua Faraimo, Motuopuaa Vaai, Mulipola Oliva, Aeau Peniamina and Toluono Feti.

The speaker said the MPs have broken the law by changing from the parties that they were sworn in when they entered the current parliament. In their submissions made to the Speaker earlier this year, the MPs said they have formed an unregistered political party called Tautua Party in preparation for the next general elections.

Former Minister Palusalue Faapo was sworn in as an HRPP member but resigned last year during the Right Hand Drive debate and later joined the new party. The others were either opposition MPs or entered and sworn in as independent MPs. Tolofuaivalelei explained that the law forbids forming new political parties within the current term and MPs who resign from their original political party can only become independents.

The Speaker explained that given the intention of the law and the Standing Orders of Parliament, his decision to call by elections was to prevent such a precedence and to maintain the stability and public confidence in their elected representatives and the parliament.

He said that in the interests of Parliaments’ credibility and that of the Members concerned, it is vital to go back for the voters verdict then continue with a clean slate.

Former Minister Palusalue Faapo tried to seek clarification on the House floor but the Speaker had already ruled out any discussion. A stunned former Speaker, Aeau Peniamina also sought clarification if they were to come back for the Budget debate, but the decision as already given.

The Speaker is to inform the Head of State of his decision.


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