National Conference In Samoa Explores Electoral System, Goverance, Role Of Women

Effort part of national voter education program

By Natu Samuelu Tafunai

APIA, Samoa (Talamua, May 21, 2017) – Exploring Samoa’s fundamental development leadership issues and challenges is the aim of the “Democracy and Development in Samoa: the Role of Elections” National Conference that opened in Apia today.

Opened by the Prime Minister, the conference is hosted by the Samoa Electoral Office and the Samoa National Leadership Development Forum (SNLDF) and include presentations of research findings, comparative perspectives and discussions on Samoa’s electoral system, improving participation of women, youth and people with disabilities and village and national governance and development.

“This is the first of many activities we are initiating as part of our voter education program. Understanding how the electoral system works and the importance of voting are fundamental in a democracy,” says the Electoral Commissioner, Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio.

“The conference has speakers from Tonga, Fiji, academia, and election officials and a cross section of society represented in various panel discussions.

It is part of the Electoral offices efforts to create public awareness about the democratic process and the role of elections as there is a need for regular conversation about this process rather than leaving it to hen elections are due.

“If the process of elections is corrupt, then we elect those in parliament who make decisions that will have an impact to our country’s development,” added Faimalomatumua Matthew Lemisio.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi says there have been many changes to ensure the democratic process in Samoa’s parliament since HRPP came to lead the government in 1982.

“I remember one of the changes was creating voting IDs. This was 1982 and many voters were using the names of those who have passed away but their names were still on the electoral roll,” he said.

“This is another thing that needs to be addressed by the Electoral Office is to remove the names of all the dead people from the list,” added Tuilaepa.

He also highlighted some of the pertinent issues experienced from the last general elections.

One of these issues includes a review of Electoral Boundaries that drew a lot of concern in the last elections and a member of the Electoral Commission of Inquiry will discuss some of these issues, challenges and changes in the Samoan electoral system.

The four day conference will culminate with a National Voters Day.  The Voters Day will focus on improving youth participation in the electoral process, after evidence from the recent election revealed low youth participation.

The Samoa National Leadership Development Forum is a coalition of eminent Samoans funded by the Australian Government’s Pacific Leadership Program (PLP). The SNLDF holds public discussions and conducts research on leadership and development issues and is a think tank on developmental issues facing Samoa, providing an informal space to freely discuss issues and ideas.

Talamua
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