Thursday 22 July 2021. The electoral petition by former Tautua party leader Afemata Palusalue Fa’apo II against winning candidate for Safata No.1 Lea’anā Ronnie Posini has been adjourned in the Supreme Court to Friday next week.
When the matter was called on Thursday afternoon Afemata’s lawyer, Muriel Lui, sought an adjournment for her client to make amendments to an agreement with Leaana Ronnie, who has also filed a counter-petition against Afemata.
Leaana’s Counsel did not object and Justice Vui Clarence Nelson granted the adjournment, giving parties more time to further negotiate.
Asked outside Court about the amendments, Afemata told Samoa Global News that he is proposing for Leaana to resign, and for himself to also resign from candidacy.
“Which means we will both not contest in the by-election,” said Afemata.
“So these amendments will be discussed amongst us, Leaana and myself, and brought to Court next week,” he added.
Palusalue is a veteran parliamentarian first elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1996 and held the Safata seat for ten years to 2016 when he lost his seat to Leaana. He ran again in the April 9th 2021 election and lost by 286 votes.
Having only taken up the Afemata title in 2017, his was known throughout his career as Palusalue. In 1996 he was Parliamentary Undersecretary to the Minister of Justice. After being re-elected in 2001, he was appointed to Cabinet, first as Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, and then as Minister of Communication & Information Technology. After the 2006 general election he became Associate Minister of Finance.
Palusalue left HRPP in March 2008 and joined the opposition as an independent MP. He later became a founding member of the Tautua Samoa Party. As a result, in May 2009 he was one of nine Tautua MPs declared to have resigned their seats under an anti-party hopping law. He was subsequently reinstated after the Supreme Court overturned the law and declared the formation of new parties legal.
In January 2010 new anti-party-hopping laws came into force, barring MPs from declaring their support for political parties or organisations with political aims other than the party they were elected for. As a result, along with Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi and Vaai Papu Vaai, he was deemed to have resigned his seat. The MPs had to return for by-elections and Palusalue was re-elected in the resulting by-election.
In December 2010 he was elected deputy leader of Tautua. He was re-elected in the 2011 general election and re-elected deputy leader, however Vaai Papu lost his seat after an electoral petition and Palusalue then became party leader.
Afemata was back in Court prior to the 2021 general election and successfully fought for his right to register as a candidate in the 2021 general election under his Afemata title.