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Opposition decries ‘step backwards for Samoa’

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, June 1, 2009) – Samoa's main opposition party says the disqualification of nine of its MPs is a blow to the democratic system.

The MPs from the Tautua Party were disqualified by the speaker of parliament and will now have to stand again in by-elections.

They are accused of changing political parties after their terms began.

The speaker ruled the MPs are in breach of Samoa's anti party-changing legislation, although they dispute that.

The party leader, Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi, says they are not afraid of standing for re-election, but the ruling is a step backwards for Samoa.

He said: "It is a very sad day for Samoa, especially the integrity of parliament. Because as far as we are concerned, this is the end of democracy in Samoa."

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