Preliminary results for Samoa’s 2021 General Elections confirms four caretaker Ministers and the Deputy Speaker have lost their seats to Faatuatua i Le Atua Samoa ua Tasi Party cadidates. Two former Ministers from Savaii and two from Upolu will not be returning for the XVII Parliament of Samoa, as FAST takes Savaii by storm.
Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, has been edged out by FAST woman candidate Matamua Vasati Seumanu Sili Pulufana, taking the Faasaleleaga 1 seat once held by her late husband, Sili Tiata Leatigaga Fiu Pulufana.
Matamua says her motivation enter Parliament is to ensure the protection of cultural heritage, lands and titles.. “I believe we have to be more diligent in looking after our faasinomaga and measina.”
Former District Court Judge Faualo Lefau Tauiliili Harry Schuster has won the battle of the lawyers, edging out former Minister of Justice and Courts Administration, Faaolesa Katopau Ainuu. A former MP for Tautua Samoa, Faualo had lost his seat to Faaolesa in 2016 and returns to Parliament under the FAST banner.
Faualo has over 30 years experience as a lawyer and says Samoa must pass Laws that are relevant to improve circumstances and/or addeess problems that may exists.. “We must pass laws that we agree to, in the manner in which they are passed, and the content.”
Environmentalist and former Tautua Party MP Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster has won back the Aana Alofi 4 seat from the Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Afamasaga Rico Tupai. Toeolesulusulu Cedric had lost this seat in 2016 to Afamasaga, and now also regains it under the FAST banner.
With over 30 years working internationally, regionally and nationally on environment, climate change and sustainable international development issues, Toeolesulusulu says he sees the impacts of unsustainable development, and mismanagement of Samoa’s limited resources causing widespread inequality amongst people.. “This has compelled me to run and make effective changes for those who have been disenfranchised”.
Minister of Agriculture Lopaoo Natanielu Mua has also lost the Asau seat to Niuava Eti Malolo, a former Assistant Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE).
The former Deputy Speaker Nofoitoa Mataia Valu Talaimanu Keti will also not be returning to Parliament having lost his seat to Seuamuli Fasi Toma of FAST.
HRPPs former Deputy Speaker held the Gagaemauga 2 seat from Savaii and in the lead up to elections, filed a defamation complaint with Police against a former cop who made serious allegations against him.
A fifth Minister of the XVI Parliament will not return after losing the battle between two senior HRPP candidates in Anoamaa 1. HRPP Party whip Moefaauo Malagaitutogiai Sepulona Moananu secures his seat which was challenged by former Minister for Customs and Revenue, Tialavea Tusa Leniu Tionisio Hunt.
FAST has won 15 of Savaii’s 20 seats, according to preliminary results. They have also secured 10 seats in Upolu and for the first time in three decades, the ruling HRPP party has come under threat.
Preliminary results places HRPP with 25 seats – five from Savaii and 20 in Upolu.
Unofficial results has HRPP at 24 seats, while one Tautua Samoa and one Independent, Tuala Tevaga Iosefo Ponifasio, makes up the 51 seats of Samoa’s Legislative Assembly.
The retraction by OEC within one hour seems to have been a counting error. The Vaimauga 2 seat may soon be reconfirmed as having been won by Lenatai Victor Tamapua and not Taimang Jensen! Placing it as an even tie 25-25 FAST and HRPP.
This places the fate of Samoa’s XVII Parliament in the hands of lone Independent, lawyer and hotel owner Tuala Ponifasio who has had to fight and win many battles in the lead up to the general elections.
Last September, Tuala and Papalii Panoa Tavita Moala successfully challenged the Electoral Act 2019 as unconstitutional and discriminatory. Supreme Court Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren ordered certain provisions of the Electoral Act be amended as a result.
It is common for Samoa General Elections to be followed by a stream Court cases between candidates alleging bribery.
Whatever the outcome, the unofficial count of polling day votes by the people does confirm one thing. The hold of HRPP as the dominant politically party in Samoa has come to an end as voters particularly in Savaii show overwhelming support for FAST candidates.