Laauli's resignation "from God"; return uncertain
Former Speaker and Member of Parliament for Gagaifomauga No. 3. Laaulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt’s, decision to resign came from God he told the Samoa Observer on Tuesday.
But asked whether he might return to politics - he speaks with less certainty.
“The decision today I trust is the decision from God” he said at his office in Vaitele, not long after he surprised Parliament by announcing he was quitting.
Laauli only resigned from the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) last month, was acquitted of more than 100 charges including forgery, theft and obtaining goods by deception in the Supreme Court last Friday.
“I’d rather choose my fate [and resign] and there is no going back from here on out,” he said.
“What has been done is done, but the decision today I trust is the decision from God.
“And reflecting back on what has happened; it has only been three days celebrating my victory from my court case and this happens”.
In the meantime, the Office of the Electoral Commissioner is preparing for a by-election, to be conducted just 10 months before next April’s general election.
“A written resignation has [to be submitted] to trigger the whole [by-election] process and we will wait for that and see what’s going to happen,” said the Electoral Commissioner Faimalotoa Matthew Lemisio outside of Parliament.
Faimalotoa said once a warrant is issued they will make official preparations.
“Once that is issued we are prepared to go [...] and, yes, we are always prepared,” he said.
The Minister of the Electoral Commission, Fa’aolesa Katopau Ainu’u, confirmed that once a written resignation comes from Laauli, they will proceed with the process.
Laauli said a press conference will be called for all the media in due time, but first, he will return to his constituency to get their views.
Asked whether he could possibly return to contest the by-election, Laauli said that it matter was up to his constituency.
“I have to go back to my constituency and they will decide what our next move is,” he said.
Laauli’s battle with the H.R.P.P. started when he voted against legislation which redefined some electorate boundaries in 2018; this triggered his eventual exile from the party by Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi.
In May, High Chief Polataivao Pouvalu, from the village of Fagae'e, who claimed the support of the Faletolu (made up of the villages Fagae'e, Sasina, and Letui) urged Laauli to resign from the H.R.P.P.
"The senior chiefs of the Faletolu already met to discuss the issue,” the M.P. said,
"We were supposed to gather and invite all the matai of the constituency, but because of the terms of the state of emergency, that says not to have gatherings of more than five people, we (senior matai) decided to meet and discuss the issue on behalf of the constituency.
"The decision we came up with is to advise our Member of Parliament to move away from the H.R.P.P and make an official farewell speech in Parliament."
Polataivao admitted that the decision was not easy to make.
"As you know, we made a public announcement and told the public before that our M.P was still a member of the H.R.P.P and have also told our M.P to stay with the ruling party. This was last year when there were concerns that La'auli was no longer a member of the H.R.P.P," he said at the time.