By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA: One of the men who petitioned the Electoral Amendments 2019 as discriminatory has claimed victory over the Government after his lawyer withdrew the application in court yesterday.
The former senior public servant, Papali’i Tavita Moala also announced his candidacy as a result of the action that forced further amendments which were passed in a special sitting of Parliament last Tuesday.
Papali’i declared his candidacy for Sagaga.1. currently occupied by the Minister of Education, Loau Keneti Sio.
Supporting Papali’i’s application was former Opposition Leader, Palusalue Faapo 11 who also declared his candidacy running under the chiefly title, Afemata for the FAST Party.
Palusalue criticized government for designing laws to protect their own interests and to maintain its grip on power.
“Now we’ve seen how insecure these laws are as they can be challenged and it’s not good for a Government to lose because these were rushed without proper consultation,” he said outside court.
The petitioners also see the removal of the authority given the Electoral Commissioner to disqualify a candidate as a major victory.
Counsels for the applicants, Fuimaono Sarona Ponifasio for Tuala Ponifasio and Mauga Precious Chang for Papalii Tavita Moala, withdrew their application after reviewing the Electoral Act Amendment passed in Parliament last Tuesday.
Fuimaono said although there were “deviations to the memorandum they agreed on, they are happy with the outcome” which include:
- The removal of the authority given to the Electoral Commissioner to disqualify a candidate;
- The removal of the exemption given to only sitting Members of Parliament (MP) who are affected by the changes in the electoral constituency from the monotaga requirement;
- All intending candidates for the general election are equally treated in terms of the amendment in section 156 ( c) (ii) and
- Our client’s rights to compete in the general election are restored.
“These were the issues we agreed upon and have been granted.”
She pointed out that the areas their clients believed were discriminatory and unconstitutional was well addressed.
“So other than the Members of Parliament representing the urban constituency, all other people who want to compete in the general election are now equal under the amendment,” she said.
On the monotaga issue, Fuimaono said it is good that the candidates’ monotaga in the villages and constituency they served is recognised in the newly formed electoral constituency they will be competing in.