Samoa Opposition Predicts The End Of Ruling HRPP Party

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Palusalue: Leaked letter shows dissent, dissatisfaction with leadership

By Sophie Budvietas

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, May 26, 2014) – The Opposition leader, Palusalue Fa’apo II, is pessimistic about the future of the powerful Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P).

And he says a letter signed by 21 of the party’s 37 members, calling for the sacking of former Finance Minister, Faumuina Tiatia Liuga, tells a story.

Leaked and published by the Sunday Samoan last week, Palusalue says the letter shows that this indeed is the beginning of the end for the government.

"The letter spells the end," Palusalue told the Sunday Samoan.

"This is the end of the H.R.P.P. People are obviously very unhappy with the leadership. I believe it is the beginning of the end of them."

The Tautua Party’s Whip, Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi, likened the divide within the H.R.P.P to a bubble.

"To me, looking at it now, the H.R.P.P. is like a bubble waiting to burst," he said.

"That is how I read it. So the Prime Minister (Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi) should put his foot down and pull everybody into line to bring the party together.

"Because obviously the whole country knows that there is trouble within the party so the leader himself should take action. What he should do next is to get his party back in line."

He said he believes the trouble the ruling party now finds itself in all started when rumours circulated that Tuilaepa would step down at the next election.

"I think it all started when we heard through the grape vine that the P.M. was going to step down the next election," said Lealailepule.

"I think that is when everybody started to see who is going to take over the leadership and that created some friction within the Party up till now."

Lealailepule believes this is one of the reasons they wanted former Finance Minister Faumuina to step down.

"Because he and the P.M. had nine portfolios each, he was the most senior in Cabinet given the portfolios he held," he said.

"I think this was one of the reasons… some of them were not happy about it.

But the good thing is that Faumuina has resigned and moved on and now it is up to them."

In regards to the new Finance Minister, Palusalue said Tuilaepa’s takeover of the portfolio was a contradiction.

"It is contradicting what he is saying," the Opposition leader said. "(That) all off them are big fish they are all talented and smart they can be given any portfolio.

"That is not true –so he is keeping the Finance Portfolio because he doesn’t have faith or trust anybody else for the portfolio."

Lealailepule concluded while this was the first time for such a split to take place within the H.R.R.P., he said it was just natural.

"It is part and parcel of a party being in power too long everywhere," he said.

"If you look around the world the break up point is always around 30 years. You look at Indonesia (and) Suharto if you look at Kenya, Zimbabwe it is around the 30 year mark that people start to turn."

Prime Minister Tuilaepa was not immediately available for a comment yesterday.

However, during previous media interviews, he maintained that the H.R.P.P is as strong as ever. He has also repeatedly downplayed claims by the Opposition about problems within his party.

The letter

The letter in question shows that 21 of 37 H.R.P.P members signed a final letter calling on Prime Minister Tuilaepa to remove Faumuina from Cabinet.

Dated 14 March 2014, the letter leaked to the Sunday Samoan, was handed to Prime Minister Tuilaepa before Parliament’s session on 18th March 2014. It was during that session that Tuilaepa had promised a discussion of the Officers of Parliament Committee (O.P.C) report, in particular, Faumuina’s behaviour.

Two days into the Parliament session in question, Prime Minister Tuilaepa was evacuated from Ti’afau during one of its night sessions. He was later flown to New Zealand for medical treatment, where he remained for a couple of weeks.

A month later, on 17 April 2014, late at night, Faumuina resigned using a Ministerial statement, during which he strongly defended his behaviour.

The O.P.C report was not debated.

But the letter from the H.R.P.P members, written in Samoan, has now confirmed that a new and stronger bid had been made to sack him.

The letter shows that the issue of "corrupt practises" which plagued Faumuina peaked one month before his resignation.

The members who signed the letter included Deputy Prime Minister, Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo, four other senior Cabinet Ministers and the Deputy Speaker, Agafili Patisela Tolova’a.

"We the Members of the H.R.P.P. whose signatures are affixed hereto so to record and convey to you, Sir as Leader, that we no longer trust the Minister of Finance Hon. Faumuina Tiatia Liuga," the letter reads.

They cite the reasons for their mistrust are contained within the pages of the Auditor and Chief Controller’s 2010 and 2011 Annual Reports and the responding report tabled by the Officers of Parliament Committee.

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