A month away from the General Elections, the safe bet is that the caretaker government of the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P) will return to power.
Judging from its dominance and the amount of candidates flocking to represent the party – not counting the incumbent M.P.s – it is difficult to see how the Tautua Samoa Party can win although this country can definitely do with a change of leadership.
The real interesting question of course will be what shape or form the H.R.P.P’s leadership ranks and Cabinet will take.
In the world of politics, nothing is of certainty and we have seen a few dynamics that will sure shake things up a little in terms of the make up of the government’s power structure.
Will Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi return as Prime Minister?
Absolutely. He will.
Otherwise he wouldn’t be running.
It could well be his last term but then who knows?
The interesting tussle will be for the position of Deputy Prime Minister, currently held by Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo.
Looking back at the last election, there were several names thrown in the hat when the H.R.P.P sat down to choose their Deputy Prime Minister. Among them were Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, Faumuina Tiatia Liuga, Tuu’u Anasi’i Leota and a couple of other senior party members.
In the end, the vote went to Fonotoe.
But has he done enough in the party during the past five years to retain his position? More importantly who will he be up against this time round? Faumuina? Lautafi Fio Purcell? Fiame? Papali’i Niko Lee Hang? Or are we about to see a new face emerge from obscurity to take up the position?
Anything could happen of course.
Come to think of it, a lot happened during the 2011–2015 Parliamentary Sitting.
The uproar created by Faumuina Tiatia Liuga and the Officers of Parliament Committee (O.P.C) investigation will have a big role to play in how things will pan out.
Although they will not admit to it directly, there are still simmering divisions from that kerfuffle that will not heal automatically overnight.
What’s more, we don’t know what has become of the infamous group of 23 who signed two letters to remove the then Minister of Finance.
If anything, that was the beginning of a shift in H.R.P.P politics that will no doubt keep Prime Minister Tuilaepa very nervous heading into the elections. What if Fonotoe somehow finds the numbers to give Tuilaepa a run for the Prime Ministership?
Highly impossible, you say?
Well we can never be too sure, can we?
When it comes to the Cabinet Minister portfolios, that’s definitely true. And during the past two General Elections, we’ve seen how Tuilaepa has not been afraid to shuffle the positions and appoint the most unlikely candidates to certain jobs.
There is a strong case to be made that the same thing will happen again this year. A number of incumbent Cabinet Ministers are unlikely to retain their positions with a few new faces destined to be running the show when the next Cabinet is sworn in.
Certain movements from the Tautua Samoa Party towards the H.R.P.P have heightened speculations that perhaps some of “Tuilaepa’s boys” who have been supporting him from afar are “finally coming home.”
Their loyalty will have to be rewarded. And not to mention some of the newbies who have very good chances of becoming Cabinet Ministers in their first term. Not only are some of these newbies well qualified, they have been loyal Tuilaepa supporters for years.
So you see, anything could happen folks. And it’s only going to get more interesting as we draw nearer to Election day.
What we do know so far is that Prime Minister Tuilaepa has already surprised some of his colleagues by deciding to run again.
One of them is veteran Member of Parliament, Le Mamea Ropati Mualia, who had firmly stated his support for Tuilaepa to continue as Prime Minister when he delivered his final speech in Parliament. Le Mamea revealed that he and Prime Minister Tuilaepa had talked about the 2011 to 2015 Parliamentary term being their last. Obviously not.
But then it’s not just Le Mamea who had gotten the same vibes. A good number of people knew and in fact Tuilaepa himself had indicated that perhaps this was to be his last tilt at power.
Alas it wasn’t to be.
The question is, is there not anyone else apart from Tuilaepa, who is capable of becoming the Prime Minister of this country?
Could this be the election where we might witness some major shifts in the core of the H.R.P.P? And will someone in the H.R.P.P find the right backing and be daring enough to challenge the status quo and be victorious?
Interesting questions. So stay tuned!