Translated from files of FaaSamoa. A businesswoman with aspirations to run in the upcoming by-election for the vacated Vaimauga 3 parliamentary seat cannot register as a candidate due to stringent eligibility rules set out in Samoa’s Electoral Act.
In an interview with Samoa Global News, Tupuola Theresa Finau, 48, says she is a matai Samoa who has lived at Malololelei for over 16 years.
Tupuola says she has rendered service to the Consistency and community over the years, and serves a monotaga with the Devine Mercy Catholic church at Malololelei.
Tupuola is a matai from the village of Siumu. She resides at Malololelei which is a non-formal village in the district of. Vaimauga.
Tupuola says she has been on the electoral roll for Vaimauga 3 for a number of years now, and participates in general elections as a voter.
Tupuola, however, is not qualified to run as a candidate because according to Samoa’s Electoral Act, she must hold a matai title for a village of the consistency.
Tupuola says the village of Malololelei is not a formal village (nuu mavae) of Samoa and therefore it’s residents are unfairly discriminated by the candidacy rules.
“We are expected and required by Law to register where we reside, and it is compulsory for us to vote at every election,” says Tupuola.
“And yet, we cannot register as candidates. That is unfair and against our human rights at citizens to participate freely in elections.”
A warrant has been issued by the Speaker of the House, Hon Papalii Lio Oloipoa Taeu Masipau, directing the Office of the Electoral Commissioner to proceed with arrangements to hold a by-election for Vaimauga 3.
The Office of the Electoral Commissioner says the Constituency should be going to the polls sometime in February.
Tupuola is unhappy with the current situation and hopes the Committee currently reviewing the Electoral Act will recommend changes.
Tupuola says she would have competed as an Independent had she been eligible to participate.
Unable to run, Tupuola said she would very much like to see a woman candidate in the upcoming election.