A Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) political party roadshow held at Solosolo on 13 March 2021 was one of the issues at the centre of final submissions by counsels in the case of a FAST woman candidate against HRPP’s Deputy Leader that ended with closing submissions before the Supreme Court on Monday morning.
Alex Su’a for the petitioner, To’omata Norah Leota argued the importance of providing fa’aaloaloga (paying respects) to the whole village who took part in giving fa’aaloaloga to the FAST party as guests in the district.
“This initiative was conducted by the FAST political party but not the petitioner, and the whole purpose of the roadshow was to promote their manifesto and make this known to the constituency,” Mr Su’a submitted.
“There was no evidence to confirm that the whole purpose of the roadshow was made for my client to influence the voters to vote for her, but instead the roadshow was conducted for the voters of Anoama’a constituency in which the petitioner is running from, to understand the FAST manifesto.”
The speech given by the FAST candidate during the event was not touched upon in the previous two judgments on roadshows, however, in Fonotoe’s counter petition, the fact that To’omata spoke at the roadshow was a key aspect of their case.
During closing submissions, Justice Lesatele Rapi Va’ai raised To’omata’s speech with Counsel. Mr Alex Su’a responded that it was an opportunity for his client to acknowledge the constituency and whole itumalo.
Tuatagaloa Shane Wulf is representing HRPP’s Deputy Leader Lauofo Fonotoe Pierre Nuafesili Lauofo.
In his closing submission, Tuatagaloa argued the roadshow has to be held illegal because it was held within the election period which is from 10 March – 10 April 2021.
“The petitioner has breached section 100 of the Electoral Act 2019 because she is a member of the FAST Political Party and was engaged in the giving of food, drinks and money to the itumalo,” Tuatagaloa Shane Wulf said.
“Therefore the petitioner should be found guilty of both corrupt practice and illegal practice, because of the roadshow and also, her meeting with Alii and Faipule of Eva village that took place on 22 March 2021.”
Justices Lesatele Rapi Vaai and Justice Fepuleai Ameperosa Roma will deliver their decision later this week.
During proceedings of this case witnesses for Toomata Norah Leota’s petition were issued warrants of arrest by the Supreme Court when they failed to appear. Police were unable to find the witnesses and Mr Alex Su’a was forced to withdraw several charges orginially filed against Fonotoe.
Toomata Norah Leota polled 780 votes to Fonotoe’s 1121 at the April 9th general election. Toomata’s votes represented 35.35% of the total 2,200 votes casted for Anoamaa 1 constituency, second to Aliimalemanu Alofa Tuuau who achieved over 40% of total votes.