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Dismissed president takes over organization’s property

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Aug. 16, 2010) – The Red Cross interim board will meet Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi today seeking his help.

After an emergency meeting yesterday, Interim President Faleao Maka Sapolu told the Samoa Observer, "We have a meeting with the Prime Minister that will hopefully resolve the situation of ex-President Muagututagata Peter Ah Him trespassing on Red Cross property.

"We want this situation to be solved peacefully and we have every confidence that the leader of our country will be able to give us that guidance."

The management and control of the Red Cross Society of Samoa is in limbo. An Extraordinary Meeting by the General Assembly held last Friday removed President Muagututagata and his board and installed an interim board headed by Faleao. However, Muagututagata told the Samoa Observer yesterday morning, "Their meeting [Extraordinary] is illegal as there was an injunction issued by the court to stop them from holding it. Yet they went ahead and held it anyway."

As a result Muagututagata took matters into his own hands. He enforced what he feels is his board’s authority and right by taking over the property and hired outside people to secure the office and premises on advice of his lawyer Fonoteo Pierre Meredith. He has taken over as Acting CEO and frozen the society’s finances and work programmes until a commission of enquiry provides its report.

However, for Faleao and his committee, "We have confidence our Prime Minister will provide the guidance and direction needed to solve this situation in a peaceful manner."

They want Muagututagata to hand over the reins of power to the Interim Committee so that resolutions and plans moved by the General Assembly can be implemented.

But, in the case that Prime Minister Tuilaepa defers to the authority of the court injunction, "Well, firstly we have asked questions regarding some of the wording on that form. However, if that’s the Prime Minister’s direction then we’ll need to consult with our lawyer on our options. But let me be clear that violence is not an option."

In the meantime a number of Red Cross community programmes in Manono-tai were cancelled yesterday as a result of the impasse. A few of the workers were deeply saddened by the state of affairs. They said they just wanted to get on with the work of delivering community programmes.

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