La'auli unrattled over by-election question

The Gagaifomauga No. 3. M.P., La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao, is confident he has the full backing of his constituency even for a by-election.

The former Speaker and Cabinet Minister, who announced his intention to establish a political party in a press conference on Thursday, said he is following the wishes of his constituency and has their full support. 

La’auli said he will not tender his written resignation because he respects the decision of his constituents for him not to resign. 

To keep the peace, he said, he will honour the wishes of his constituency to form a new political party and is willing to sail through a by-election as required by law.  

Under the electoral laws once an M.P. moves to join a new political party, aside from the one they entered Parliament under, a by-election is triggered leaving the seat vacant. 

La’auli has also acknowledged that in response to a request from the Speaker to tender his written resignation, his constituency will respond to it.  

“My instruction from my constituency is that I will not resign and I will leave it like that,” he said. “I will not violate their word and my constituency will write to the Speaker to explain their authority [for me not to resign]. 

“My resignation is my right and this is the right of my constituency to reject my resignation and not to resign.” 

La’auli said he had searched for God’s peace to find a solution to his matter. 

He pointed out that the solution is to honour the will of his constituency to set up a new political party and he will go through what is required under the law and will be his official departure. 

Furthermore, the former member of the Human Rights Protection Party [H.R.P.P.] said his constituency is backing him through it all. 

“That is where I stand not only to accept my decision [to resign] but have also accepted the will of my constituency for a new party and not to write a resignation letter,” he said. 

La’auli added he does not have any intention to return to Parliament during the last remaining sessions. 

“I don’t want to leave because I have tendered the resignation letter but I will use the requirement under the law [for a by-election] to form the new political party,” he said. 

“I believe that is where I feel confident with my decision and that is the line I will draw to find peace in this.”  

The proposed political party, which La’auli said will be formed by the end of this month, will be the sixth political party that will contest the 2021 General Election. 

According to La’auli, before the new party is registered, he will seek the blessings and consent from those in Savai’i and Upolu to garner their support. 

Earlier this week, Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi said that La’auli should honour his verbal resignation delivered in parliament. 

Tuilaepa said the M.P. should carry out the resignation (he announced) when 200,000 people listened to Parliament. 

“That is why I say that you can lie to the Court but you cannot lie in Parliament because it is being publicised again and again,” he said. 

In addition, Tuilaepa said the decision from the constituency to reject the resignation of La’auli was all political, saying the M.P. could have been behind it. 

But La’auli said his decision to resign last week was to protect his constituency, as the verbal attacks from M.Ps that spoke about a parliamentary report on him, was also an attack on his constituents. 

He said the decision he made was the right one to decide his own fate rather than having M.Ps condemn him with their game plan. 

“It was heavy on my mind that I will violate the words from my constituency not to resign so I can save them and block the harsh words directed at me,” he said. 

“They did not talk about the report and the $300,000 generator but had turned to scold me because of my exchange with the Prime Minister. 

“I don’t think that is right. It was like a game plan to tie me up and beat me up. An example is it's like the times of gladiator where they let out the tiger and armed men against me with bare hands.” 

The Privilege and Ethics Committee found La’auli guilty of misleading Parliament over comments he made comparing the price of a generator for the prison. 

The Committee recommended to suspend La’auli for three months without pay. 

La’auli said he would not have accepted the Committee’s recommendation and it would have made it seem like he had committed a big crime for his comments, which were made to substantiate his point of saving public funds. 

“It was to save my constituency and I believe they understand my reasons [to resign and leave],” he said. 

“The reason why I had violated their word is to save them and they understood that. 

“And the comments made by the Prime Minister it was political [decision from the constituency to reject my resignation] I feel for him. 

“The constituency does not play politics and the decisions made by the Aiga Sa Tupua and Aiga Sa Malietoa is not political if that is what is being done in parliament…” 

La’auli maintained that his constituency has authority over him and the decisions he makes. 

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