Parties in the Electoral Act Challenge Agree to Amend the Act

Intending candidates for the 2021 elections, Afemata Palusalue Faapo 11, petitioner Papalii Panoa Tavita Moala and Aiono Tuaifaiva Meapelo Frost.

APIA, SAMOA: Parties in the Electoral Act challenge before the Supreme Court have agreed to amend certain provisions to the Electoral Act 2019.

Supreme Court Judge, Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren was informed of the resolution reached and delivered the order today.

“The Applicant will withdraw their application subject to the Respondent carrying out the amendment to the relevant provision of the Electoral Act 2019,” said Justice Tafaoimalo.

The Applicants challenged certain provisions of section 156 of the Electoral Act which exempts sitting Members of Parliaments from rendering service – monotaga to the villages.

The Applicants Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio was represented by Fuimaono Sarona Ponifasio and Papali’i Panoa Moala Tavita represented by Precious Mauga Chang.

The Respondent, the Office of the Electoral Commissioner was represented by the Attorney General, Savalenoa Mareva Betham-Annandale.

The Applicants argued that the provision in section 156 was “unconstitutional, unfair and discriminatory.”

The Attorney General, Savalenoa Mareva Betham-Annandale, Galumalemana Loreta Teueli and Violina Leilua for the Government.

When counsel for the Applicants was asked if they will withdraw their application, Fuimaono Sarona said “not until they see the amendments.”

“The order is to withdraw the applications after the amendments are done,” she said.

Asked what the amendments are, she said it is confidential as the amendments have to be tabled in Parliament, and once that is done, then it becomes public information.

“But we are happy with the proposed amendment and it’s a compromise both parties agree upon,” she said.

Last Friday, Justice Tafaoimalo made an order that the parties must return today with a resolution to the issue, and if not, then she would hear submissions.

However, the parties came to an agreement over the weekend.

After the order was read out, the Applicants were in a jovial mood hugging each other.

Papali’i Moala acknowledged the result and the support from the country.

“We are happy with the outcome, because simply put, the Government has lost their case and we now await the amendment,” he said.

Lawyers for the Applicants –Fuimaono Sarona Ponifasio and Mauga Precious Chang.

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