Peseta defends P.M. over bitter feud with La'auli

The Associate Minister of the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga, has distanced Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegai, from the longstanding dispute between himself and a senior Parliamentarian, Laauli Leuatea Schmidt. 

Speaking during a press conference he called at the Tanoa Hotel yesterday, Peseta made it absolutely clear that Tuilaepa's only involvement was to try and "resolve the dispute." 

The differences between Peseta and La'auli started many years ago over a nonu company they were involved in. The dispute has been in and out of Court since.

Last month, the Supreme Court delivered a decision which found La'auli not guilty of more than 100 forgery, theft and obtaining by deception charges, as part of the dispute. 

Speaking publicly for the first time since the decision, Peseta confirmed that he met with Laauli and Tuilaepa several times in a bid to find an amicable solution to the problem. 

"We were both members of the H.R.P.P. and as the leader, we met with Tuilaepa and he gave us his advice to resolve the issue," said Peseta. 

"It was his duty as a leader to make sure that we (Member of Parliaments) are in good terms because the eyes of the country are on us."

Peseta said he admired the Prime Minister's desire for them to resolve their differences.

"He tried his best to resolve the issue between me and La'auli. We did not meet for four or five times. We met several times and every time he said the same thing; for me and La'auli to sort the matter on our own so we can continue working together and carrying out our duties as Parliamentarians."

To prove his point that Tuilaepa did not prefer him over La'auli, Peseta made reference to an incident where he was arrested by Police while attending an H.R.P.P. party back in 2015. 

"Tuilaepa was the Minister of Police at the time," Peseta said. "I was his Associate Minister. I was shocked at the time, when I was at the H.R.P.P. party, and the police called me to come out. 

"I came out and they asked to go with them to the police station. I told them if they could wait as the occasion I was attending was a very important one. However, they insisted that I go with them. 

"I did not refuse to go nor did I seek the help from the Prime Minister so I can get away. 

"I also did not use my power as an Associate Minister to try and cover up because I know no one is above the law. I did not ask the Prime Minister to help me out with my case."

But Peseta said he was shocked when he heard on television that La'auli went to Tuilaepa for help. 

"When La'auli was charged, I heard on television that the Prime Minister said La'auli came to him for help. I was shocked because that is the difference between me and him," Peseta said. 

"Not once did I go to Tuilaepa to help me get away with the charges and accusations that were made against me."

Peseta strongly defended working with the Prime Minister to defeat La'auli in the court case. 

"The matter always has been between me, La'auli and other directors of the nonu company that we started. The Prime Minister stepped in as a leader to try and resolve the issue because it's not nice if people see that two Cabinet Ministers and H.R.P.P. members disputing over this matter.

"Not only in Samoa, but this matter has reached other countries overseas. So Tuilaepa had to do something as he is the leader of the government and the leader of H.R.P.P."

Peseta also defended his side in the dispute saying he has evidence to prove that he was right all along.

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