To mark the 40th Anniversary of the Samoa Observer, a series of selected articles printed over the last 40 years will be re-published in the next two weeks, to show our readers the issues covered by this newspaper over the years and the personalities that made the headlines.
First Published: 29 March 1979
The Prime Minister, Hon. Tupuola Efi, has made it back by a narrow margin.
He has retained his leadership by polling 24 votes against 23 by Opposition leader Hon. Vaai Kolone, in what has been described as the “toughest struggle” for Prime Minister this country has ever seen.
After almost five weeks of “intensive campaigning”, the new Parliament went into its first session yesterday to vote for a prime minister.
In most counts, the intensive campaigning paid off.
Yesterday, the Opposition has indicated it had in its camp 23 Members of Parliament who had pledged faithful support.
At about the same time, Hon. Tupuolas’s camp said it had 24, members of Parliament.
A 47 member Legislative, the Fono has to choose a Speaker of the House first, then a Deputy Speaker and then the Prime Minister.
In all three separate elections, the Clerk of the House, Feesago Siaosi Fepulea’i, calls each member up to the desk where each member casts his vote.
At the end of each election, a count was made and an announcement was given.
From practice, was an accepted that the election the Speaker of House would determine to a good extent which side the scale would tip.
The elected Speaker, as it happened, was a Tupuola supporter. He polled 24 votes against 23 polled by his opponent.
In the general elections on 24 February, 16 new members made it into Parliament. One of the fallen members was the Minister of Education, Lilomaiava Niko.
All the other 7 Cabinet Ministers in the previous government stood firmly behind Tupuola during the intensive campaigning leading up to the election of a Prime Minister.
The campaigning for the prime minister could have been described as far worse than a “toughest struggle”.
One week before elections, the Opposition issued a public statement alleging that the Prime Minister’s party had bribed a member of the Opposition with $1000 “for the purpose of buying his support.”
The allegation was denied by the Prime Minister’s party. There wre also reports made by an Opposition member that telephones belonging to certain Opposition Members were being tapped. Before that, telephones belonging to members of Tupuola’s party were reported tapped. The reports were taken lightly because such allegations had been hurled about, and they showed to have no substance after investigations.
But, the Prime Minister chosen would now face the task of choosing his Cabinet Ministers.
In this manner, it would be well to bear in mind Hon. Vaai’s urging, that those who could help Samoa achieve a better tomorrow, be chosen.
Tupuola Efi, although he has been a politician for several years, was the Prime Minister for the last three years.
In the general elections of 24 February, he retained his seat of Aana Alofi No. 2, with 92 votes against his opponent who polled 26. In 1976 he was unopposed.
Tupuola Efi is the son of the late Tupua Tamasese Mea’ole, the joint Head of States until his death in 1963.