Commission of Inquiry Recommends One Parliamentary Seat for Lepa and Lotofaga

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Translated from FaaSamoa. The high-powered Commission of Inquiry appointed to lead a national review of the election process and make recommendations on the country’s Electoral Act following the April 2021 General Elections has completed its work.

Commission findings and recommendations, now before a  Parliamentary Select Committee is believed to be a comprehensive three-volume report finalised in both English and Samoan.

Amongst recommendations contained in the report are adjustments to electoral constituency boundaries in order to equitably reflect population density by increasing MPs for heavily populated urban areas, and joining together constituencies with low numbers.

The electoral constituency of Lotofaga represented by Prime Minister Hon Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, and the electoral constituency of Lepa represented by former Prime Minister and leader of the Opposition, Hon Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, have been tagged as two constituencies which should become one.

The Leader of the Opposition during his weekly press conference with the media hit back at this recommendation of the Commission of Inquiry. Tuilaepa questioned the Commission’s integrity and said such a recommendation could only be a scheming plot to get rid of him.

The Commission’s report is also said to suggest a joining of Gagaifomauga 1 and Gagaifomauga 3 – parliamentary seats held by HRPP woman MP Hon Faimalotoa Kika Stowers, and FAST Party Chairman Hon Laaulialemalietoa Leauatea Polataivao Fosi Schmidt.

The Commission also suggests an additional three seats to cater for equitable distribution of MPs for the densley populated urban Apia area – recommending two additional seats for Vaimauga and one for Faleata.

For the controversial 10% minimum women’s seats required by Samoa’s Constitution, the Commission have suggested this number to be four with two from Savaii and two from Upolu.

In this week’s Letter to the Editor Tuilaepa says the recommendation that Parliamentary seats are reduced to 45 with only 4 seats for women is “certainly taking Samoa backwards”.

The Commission of Inquiry’s final report has not yet been made public as it is currently before the Parliamentary Select Committee as confirmed by Elctoral Commissioner, afioga Tuiafelolo Alexander John Stanley.

However, Tuilaepa has openly spoken about the recommendations and says the public will find the report amusing.

“The Report’s recommendations are full of inconsistencies and contradictions which readers should find vastly entertaining,” writes the Opposition Leader.

Tuilaepa adds that there is a suggestion to form a Second House of Parliament, “a proposal already rejected by the Plebiscite held in the early 90s.”

“The one only sensible recommendation made in the report,” says Tuilaepa, “is for Samoans overseas who want to vote in our General Elections to fly over and vote in Samoa as we have done since 1962.”

The  Electoral Commissioner confirmed that the Commission’s Report and Recommendations will be tabled at the next sitting of Parliament.