APIA: 31 March 2010: The upcoming by-elections for three constituencies, Safata, Faleata West and Vaisigano Number 1 will achieve nothing useful and will be a waste of time. This is according to Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielagaoi.
The by-elections have been forced when the three MPs decided to remain as members of the newly formed Tautua Party despite the enforcement of the amendments to the Electoral Act and Constitution that makes it illegal for MPs to switch parties within the current term.
The MPs decided then to resign at the end of the last session of Parliament and go back for a mandate from their constituencies.
The Tautua Party was formed by a group of MPs who left the government benches, the former Opposition Party and Independents.
The Prime Minister said that even if the three MPs make it back to the House, they would still not be recognized as a party as the Standing Orders dictate that the minimum number of MPs to form a political party in the House is eight.
“If they come back to parliament, then what?” Tuilaepa asked rhetorically.
It is the very reason why Parliament no longer has an Opposition Party when in-fighting caused the resignation of former Leader Le Mamea Ropati and MPs loyal to him, leaving the Party without the numbers to be recognized as a party in the House.
The by-elections are planned for May even though the date has yet to be announced by the Electoral Commissioner.
Former Cabinet Minister for Posts and Telecommunications, Palusalue Faapo 11 now faces the former CEO of the Prime Ministers Department, Auseugaefa Poloma Komiti for the Safata seat.
Former Cabinet Minister Vaai Papu Vaai is likely to be returned unopposed while Tautua Chairman, Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi faces two other candidates for the Faleata West seat.
Lealailepule has already criticised what he called “the strong-arm tactics employed by his competitors using the village councils to ensure bulk voting against the voter who will exercise their individual rights of choice.”