Former Cabinet Minister Le Tagaloa Dr. Pita Alailima has been disqualified from contesting next Friday’s General Elections.
The decision by the Supreme Court yesterday follows an eligibility challenge lodged by the incumbent M.P for Palauli i le Falefa, Faumuina Tiatia Liuga.
Faumuina, who was represented by lawyer Alaalatoa Rosella Papali’i, argued that Le Tagaloa does not qualify because he had failed to render service to his village of Sili as the law stipulates.
Justice Lesatele Rapi Vaai ruled in favour of Faumuina. He said his reasons would be provided to the parties in writing.
Outside Court, Le Tagaloa, who was represented by lawyer, Sarona Ponifasio, said he would appeal the matter.
“The decision is discriminating and against the customs and traditions of my village and others that might be the same,” said Le Tagaloa.
“I will take legal action and appeal the monotaga requirement because it is discriminating and unconstitutional. It’s not in accordance to my village customs and traditions…the law is basically forcing my village to go against its customs, forcing Tama a Aiga and the pāpā of Samoa to provide monotaga.”
Le Tagaloa recalled that he had run in previous elections.
“I qualified then but now they are saying I lied,” he said.
“The Constitution says that the government of Samoa works pursuant to customary traditions and Christianity values.”
He added that the amendment to the Electoral Act involving monotaga was passed six months ago and it was politically motivated.
“It is unconstitutional and I am prepared to take this to the Court of Human Rights and the Court of Appeal,” said Le Tagaloa.
During the hearing, Alaalatoa argued that Le Tagaloa does not meet the eligibility requirement because he has not rendered service (monotaga) as the law requires.
Le Tagaloa did not deny not rendering any monotaga to his village.
But he argued that “such monotaga is normally performed by matai of lesser importance…and he is not one of those matai (title holders).”