DOMINANT SAMOA PARTY FACES ELECTION CHALLENGE

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Opposition more coordinated, better-informed this time

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, Feb. 23, 2011) - A Samoan academic says next week’s election could be the ruling Human Rights Protection Party’s (HRPP) toughest challenge for some time.

The HRPP has been in power for almost 30 years, and its leader, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has been Prime Minister since 1998.

A political scientist at Otago University, Dr. Iati Iati, says the opposition Tautua Samoa party is more co-ordinated and well-informed than he’s seen for a long time.

"They’ve been really vocal in their opposition to the government, and I think they’ve hit on a number of key issues and demonstrated that they’re quite well informed about these issues. For example, selling of government corporations, the level of poverty, the crisis in relation to standard of living in Samoa. So I think they’ve demonstrated that they know what’s going on with government policy, a lot better than a number of oppositions have in past elections."

Dr. Iati Iati says the HRPP party will be wanting to highlight the political stability under its governance and its experience.

[PIR editor’s note: A separate report says the ruling party has launched its manifesto outlining projects in areas such as education, health, tourism, agriculture and cultural developments as the main focus for the next five years if the party is re-elected. One of their many promises is to increase salaries for all employees.]

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