M.P. remains with Tautua Party, H.R.P.P. switch possible
One of only two Members of Parliament who entered the Legislative Assembly under the Tautua Samoa Party flag, Ili Setefano Ta’ateo, says he has not switched political parties.
The M.P. for A’ana Alofi No. 2, said he is still a member of the former opposition party but confirmed that some voters in his constituency have asked him to switch to the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.).
Ili and veteran M.P. for Falealupo, Aeau Peniamina Leavaise’eta are the only Tautua Samoa M.Ps in Parliament, aside from Independent M.P. Olo Fiti Vaai.
In an interview with the Samoa Observer, Ili said reports that he is crossing the floor to join the ruling H.R.P.P. are speculation about his future plans.
“At the moment I am still an Independent Member,” he said.
“Part of the reason [why I have entertained the switch] is because some of my constituents have approached me to change.
“Before the last general election a lot of my constituents wanted me to go under H.R.P.P. but there was also the other side that wanted the Tautua Party.
“So the decision on which party to run under will depend on the upcoming meeting of my constituents and whatever they say that is where I will stand.”
Asked if he would face his constituency for a by-election given his potential to switch sides, Ili said no.
Ili said given the general election in 2021 is 12 months away he is not considering a by-election.
"I cannot say anything more into this until my constituents meet again and decide…," he said.
The President of Tautua Party, Luagalau Dr. Wood Salele in a previous interview said the party has not been officially informed of Ili’s intention to change parties.
He added that, should the Tautua Samoa M.P. intend to switch, he would have to surrender his seat as he ran under the Tautua flag or wait until Parliament dissolves for the general election before he can change.
Luagalau added that the political party’s endorsement had given Ili the advantage of winning the seat that he currently occupies in parliament.
In 2010 several M.Ps who were registered with the H.R.P.P. were forced into a by-election after they left the party.
Former Leader of Tautua Samoa, Palusalue Fa’apo II, M.P. Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi and Va’ai Papu were forced to win their way back to the House in by-election when they left the party.
Under Parliament Standing Orders any member who takes the oath of Allegiance before he or she is notified under a party as required shall be recognised as an independent member for the duration of their parliamentary term.