Election Petitions Between Two HRPP Members Withdrawn

Sulamanaia Tauiliili Tuivasa outside Court. Photo: Nah Folasā Eyespy Radio 87.5

14 June 2021, Mulinuu, Apia Samoa. HRPP candidates who had filed an election petition and counter petition against each other have requested they be withdrawn.

Incumbent Vaimauga 1 MP from Letogo, Sulamanaia Tauiliili Tuivasa had faced an election petition alleging bribery filed by a fellow HRPP candidate from the neighbouring vilage of Laulii, Fuatimau Maumea Leniu.

When the matter was called in the Supreme Court before Justice Satiu Simativa Perese and Justice Leiataualesa Rapi Vaai, Fuatimau applied to have his petition withdrawn through his lawyer, Tanya Toailoa.  Sulamanaia’s lawyer, Tuatagaloa Shane Wulf did not oppose and also submitted his own client’s intention to withdraw a counter-petition alleging bribery, filed against Fuatimau.

Fuatimau Maumea Leniu outside Court 14.6.2021. Photo: Nah Folasā Eyespy Radio 87.5.

The Court has adjourned the matter to next week Monday 21st June 2021, to allow a prescribed notice of the withdrawal to be given to the Constituency as required by the Electoral Act.

The race between the two neighboring villages of Vaimauga 1 was sealed by Sulamanaia with 1349 votes against Fuatimau’s 991 – a gap of 358.  The constituency includes the villages of Laulii, Letogo, Mauga Fiafia, Vailele and Fagalii.

This is Sulamanaia’s second term as MP for Vaimauga 1.  In his first term as an MP, some of the issues raised by Sulamanaia included a call for a restructure of the pension scheme for the elderly.  Sulamanaia proposed it was more equitable to increase the pension scheme to an amount of $200, and remove current benefits such as free ferry rides to and from Savaii, as well as prescription medicine for all Samoans 65 years and above.

“It would be better to increase the pension and remove those concessions, then pensioners can go and pay their own way to Savaii and also pay for medicine when they need it.”

During a debate on firearms for the Samoa Police, Sulamanaia suggested the involvement of village councils be legislated, to ensure police do not enter a village armed, without direct collaboration with village councils of matai.

Two other election petitions continue in the Supreme Court of Samoa this week.

FAST candidate for Aana Alofi 3 with a solid 700-575 win at the polls faces a challenge from Independent/HRPP representative, Ili Setefano Tapili who previously held the seat from 2016-2021. The second case this week is Tautua Samoa party leader Afualo Wood Uti Salele, challenging FAST Fepuleai Faasavalu Su’a who had beaten him by 381-373. Afualo had polled third, with HRPP’s Toomata Aki Tuipea polling 375.

Marieta H Ilalio