Seat declared vacant, by-election called
It's official. Gagaifomauga No. 3 is heading for a by-election.
The decision was confirmed by the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Tiatia Graeme Tualaulelei, who said the Speaker of Parliament has issued a warrant to declare the Gagaifomauga No. 3 seat in Parliament vacant.
This therefore warrants a by-election.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Tiatia said the decision followed a meeting by Speaker Leaupepe Toleafoa Faafisi and the M.P. for Gagaifomauga No. 3, La'aulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt, on Thursday.
“The Speaker has notified that La’auli has resigned and has issued a warrant to notify the Head of State that the seat is vacant,” he said.
“It is now going through the normal procedure to issue writ to the Electoral Commissioner [for by-election].”
Contacted for a comment, La’auli confirmed the meeting with the Speaker but disputed that he offered a written resignation.
“I had met with the Speaker to inform him a letter to explain the decision from my constituency not to resign and move to set up a new political party,” clarified La’auli.
“In setting up that new political party that will be used to vacate the seat in Parliament as required under the electoral law.
“That decision is to honour and respect the wish of my constituency to setup a new political party and to also honour my verbal resignation.”
The outgoing M.P. and former Cabinet Minister, said he walks away from Parliament on his own terms.
“It is not a trick, it was from my heart,” he added.
It was not possible to get a comment from the Electoral Commissioner, Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio.
Earlier this month, La’auli shocked parliament when he intervened during debate on Privilege and Ethics Committee report and verbally resigned from his parliamentary duties.
At the time, La’auli said he accepts the recommendation and report from the Privilege and Ethics Committee to suspend him from parliament and it is taken as his resignation.
The Parliamentary Committee found La’auli guilty of misleading parliament over statements he made about a costly generator that he believes should have cost less and would save public funds.
The M.P. maintains that his statement was error of speech to prove his point that the generator for the Prisons facility can be obtained at a cost a lot of less than the appropriated $300,000.
His decision to resign was rejected by several villages from the constituency that urged him to setup up a new political party and not to tender his written resignation.