Tuilaepa challenges La'auli to by-election test

The Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, has challenged the Member of Parliament for Gagaifomauga No. 3 to return to his constituency for a by-election after he quit the ruling Human Rights Protection Party. 

Tuilaepa said the decision from the former Cabinet Minister, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao, to leave H.R.P.P. and to set up another political party should be decided upon by the voters. 

He said the most honourable course of action for La’auli was to let his constituency decide on whether he should return to Parliament to run under the banner of another political party. 

“A person that is truly honest doesn’t need to ask again [if there is a by-election],” Tuilaepa said during his 2AP radio programme. 

“If you no longer trust a political party and want to set up your own party as instructed by the constituency, the right thing to do is to resign from Parliament and go ask the constituency again. 

“Whatever the answer is [from voters] then that is it. That is the most honest thing to do.” 

The senior M.P. La’auli announced on the Independence Day holiday his decision to leave the H.R.P.P. was taken to heed the wishes of his constituency to break away with the ruling party. 

But in a recent development, the M.P. said he did not resign but rather stepped aside from H.R.P.P. to become an Independent member

Last week, the Electoral Commissioner, Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio. said would be no by-election for the constituency of Gagaifomauga no3. 

The Constitution makes it clear that a seat is vacated - and a by-election is called for - should an M.P. who entered Parliament under a certain political party’s flag resigns or switches to another party. 

But an M.P. can move to become an independent M.P. if the party of which he is a member decides to sack him.  

According to Faimalo, the Prime Minister had already announced publicly that their party had parted ways with La’auli in accordance with the internal party procedure and regulation. 

“That was prior to the Honourable La’auli’s press conference where he declared himself officially as an independent M.P.,” he said. 

“I’ve already outlined what the law says about these kinds of circumstances. 

“When a Member resigns from one political party and joins another political party, then that is a ground for a Parliamentary seat to be vacated. And a by-election is therefore called.”

Faimalo said in the case of La’auli, he was let go by the H.R.P.P. as per an announcement from Tuilaepa and La’auli declaring himself to be an Independent M.P. 

“In accordance with the Standing Order of Parliament, when an M.P. ceases to be a member of the Political Party that he swore allegiance to, he shall then become an Independent M.P.,” he said. 

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