Electoral Commissioner dismisses voter's concerns

Electoral Commissioner Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio has dismissed claims that a Government project's ground breaking ceremony on the eve of the Fa’asaleleaga No. 2 by-election was politically motivated.

Responding to questions from the Samoa Observer, Faimalo said Government’s plans were done before the date of the by-election for the Fa’asaleleaga No. 2 constituency was determined. 

He said this in response to concerns by an elderly woman voter of Fogapoa, Fa’alagilagi Polu, who questioned the timing of the ground breaking ceremony in Savai'i on the eve of polling. The project in question was the commissioning of a new $600,000 prison facility at Vaia’ata. 

Mrs Polu said the project's launching on the eve of polling made the event look like it was politically motivated. 

“I guess this is nothing new, over the years this is what’s been happening. And while we are thankful of the Government’s assistance in the villages, the timing of this ground breaking is a bit funny, considering that the election was done the next day.

“I am not against it (project), just ironic to have it the day before the by-election, it leaves the trail this is politically motivated,” she told this newspaper last month.

But when asked for his views on the voter's comments and whether the project launching's timing on the eve of a by-election is an issue, Faimalo said the Government's plans were made in advance of the by-election date and he has no say in how the Government conducts its business. 

“Isn’t that the role of Government, to develop our country? As Electoral Commissioner, I have no say in the Government’s day to day planning and running of our country. 

“Mind you the Government’s plans were done way before the date of this by election was determine,” he added. 

The Electoral Commissioner also emphasised that they are an electoral management body. 

“We manage elections. We have no say in the day-to-day running of Government.” 

However, he acknowledged that they cannot control public criticism. 

“We cannot control public opinions and people see things differently, depending on their own context and perspectives. The Office of Electoral Commissioner has no control over that.” 

In relation to laws governing political parties on the matter at hand, Faimalo said that they (political parties) have their manifestos to uphold and also explained the significance of political party manifestos going into every general election. 

“I suppose in those manifesto outlines plans for political parties when they come into Government. 

“Those manifesto were publicly launched. I remember two parties launched theirs before the 2016 General Elections and I suppose those plans are carried out during their tenure as Government,” he added. 

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