And so it begins. We’re talking about the aftermath of the General Election, famously or infamously known as the election petitions period.
It started yesterday with the confirmation of how many petitions that have been filed with the Supreme Court. And from what we’ve been told so far, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi might have to rethink some of the appointments to key roles in Parliament and Cabinet in light of the allegations that have surfaced.
First up is the Speaker of Parliament, Leaupepe Tole’afoa Fa’afisi, who has been accused of wrongdoing by a rival at Aana Alofi No. 1. Aiono Tile Gafa, has apparently accused the Speaker of election corruption in a petition he has filed with the Court.
The Office of the Electoral Commissioner is also implicated in the lawsuit.
Confirmed by the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration, Papali’i John Taimalelagi, the claims against the Speaker is one of six election petitions filed.
The other five petitions involve:
• Lafaitele Patrick Leiataualesa vs Aliimalemalemanu Alofa Tuuau
• Ale Vena Ale vs Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi and the Office of the Electoral Commissioner
• Palusalue Fa’apo II vs Leaana Ronnie Posini and Manualesagalala Enokati Posala
• Anae Misa Pita vs Taefu Lemi
• Maualaivao Pat Ah him vs Faumuina Wayne Fong
According to Papali’i, the majority of the claims filed allege bribery, treating and corruption in relation to the violation of voting laws.
All petitions have been referred the Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Tiava’asue Falefatu Sapolu for a review before a mention date is set.
In the meantime, Papali’i confirmed that there are three other election-related criminal prosecutions that have been lodged with the Court, to be heard on 12 April 2016.
These matters involve criminal charges against two Members of Parliament and a member of the public. The Members of Parliament are:
• Sala Fata Pinati, of Gagaemauga No 1
• Pau Sefo Pau of Faasaleleaga No. 2
The Ministry of Justice C.E.O did not confirm what the charges are. Whatever they are, they would eventually be revealed.
Two weeks ago, we said that this election process is cruel. We said that the process is one of them cases where the saying ‘it ain’t over until it’s really over’ couldn’t be more appropriate.
Indeed, it’s a nerve-wracking process for politicians whose future in the political sphere hang in a balance as the process continues.
You wouldn’t want to be in their shoes.
First there was the campaign trail, then there was the counting period where the lead in some constituencies changed from time to time.
And just after they have been sworn in as Members of Parliament, now this has come up and it’s likely to drag on for the next couple of months, as long as the Court sees fit. It’s cruel.
But it is what it is.
It’s a process that has to be followed.
To be fair to the M.P.s who have been accused and implicated, they are not the only parties that should be going through this process. There are others who have perhaps made deals to settle their issues outside of Court. Which is okay.
There is also a school of thought that frowns upon candidates who file election petitions, saying it’s a waste of time. We respectfully disagree.
If justice is the ultimate goal, this is all part of the process and we say let justice take its course. So stay tuned folks!