30 June 2021, Mulinuu Apia Samoa. Former Minister of Communication and Information Technology Honourable Afamasaga Toeolesulusulu Lepuiai Rico Tupai this morning withdrew his election petition against winning FAST candidate Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster.
The decision confirms Toeolesulusulu Cedric as the Member of Parliament for Aana Alofi 4, a constituency that includes the gateway to Samoa, Faleolo, together with the villages of Faleatiu, Satapuala, Fasitoo-Tai, Vailuutai, Magia and Sagafili.
Outside Court Afamasaga told the media his main consideration was to maintain peace and stability within the village and district, and to honor the request put to him by district elders.
Afamasaga Toeolesulusulu Rico said the decision is about the district that he loves, and explains he was faced with a talosaga or formal request made by high chiefs of the district to consider a withdrawal. He says the decision to withdraw his petition is made out of respect for matai, so he humbly hands over the reigns to Toeolesulusulu Cedric, to represent their district for the next five years.
“O lenei taeao e lagona le momoo o le loto i le alofa i le itumalo ma le latou talosaga ma le latou taumafai mai, lea la o le a faaulu i tua le mataupu ae lafo le faaaloalo i le susuga ia Toeolesulusulu Cedric e folau ai o ia i lenei 5 tausaga i le faigamalo ma le palemene faapea lana tautua mo si o ma itumalo.”
The former Minister said his work within the village will not end here, as there are many other areas of support he will be working from on various village development projects.
“E le gata i lea o le a taalo mai pea i tua ma lagolago mai aua nisi o atiinae mo le nuu ma le itumalo”.
Afamasaga Toeolesulusulu Rico says the decision to withdraw places the people first and foremost, to avoid unnecessary tensions amongst villagers and their district. He thanked the district and gave his assurance the withdrawal did not come with any negotiating terms or conditions.
“E leai foi ni aiaiga o lenei mataupu, e na o le faaulu lava i tua o le mataupu, ona sauni lea o le Faamasinoga e faasalalau mo aso e 7 ona fai lea.”
Since the filing of 28 by-election petitions and counter-petitions, the giving of testimonies by villagers as witnesses in Court has raised conflict and division amongst many of the villages and districts involved.
The Aana seat was held by Toeolesulusulu Cedric under the Tautua Samoa banner from 2011-2016, however, he lost the seat to Afamasaga Rico in the 2016 general election. In his first ever term in Parliament, Afamasaga Rico was selected into Cabinet as Minister for MCIT, and led Samoa’s technological advances to be a future digital hub with its undersea cable infrastructure bringing lower internet costs and faster connectivity.
An environmentalist by profession, Toeolesulusulu Cedric was down for Minister of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) under the FAST majority government before finding himself on the other side of the law with a driving under the influence (DUI) charge that led to his stepping down.
Outside Court Toeolesulusulu Cedric thanked God for the peaceful result, and acknowledged the district matai for their interventions that led a peaceful solution. He thanked Afamasaga Rico for the opportunity to serve the district, and said he does not take this chance lightly, and will do all he can to serve the district.
Toeolesulusulu called for the district to work together, for the future of villages, families and youth.
“E sii le viiga ma le faafetai i Le Alii.., faafetai foi i le itumalo mo le tapuaiga, ma le latou taumafaiga lea ua tau lau o le faamoemoe..e le tuumamaina lenei avanoa.. e tatalo foi tatou te galulue faatasi..”.
To a packed group of matai from the district who had come to Court, Toeolesulusulu Cedric joked about not having been paid for the past two months since the April 9th general elections, but still handed over $500 tala to the tapuaiga of matai and village members present. Afamasaga Toeolesulusulu Rico also gave his contribution to the tapuaiga of matai after the traditional exchange of speeches amongst orators were made.