Election chief emphasises campaign committee ban

The Electoral Commissioner, Faimalomatumua Matthew Lemisio, has reminded prospective candidates running for the next general election that using campaign committees has been made illegal. 

“In most of the election cases in the past, it’s always the actions of these committees that [have] resulted in cases of corruption in our elections and some Members of Parliament losing their seats,” the Electoral Commissioner said.  

Faimalo emphasises the rationale behind the new changes banning the committees is to eliminate any dishonest practices. 

The changes are welcomed and supported by President of the Tautua Samoa Party, Afualo Dr. Luagalau Salele. 

“We support the new changes, because it has been proven over time the Committees are roots of corruption,” he said.

“They are there to support you, but the members tend to take it overboard and they will bend backwards to get the candidates their [votes] and if that means bribery, they will do it, but the candidates will suffer.”

He commended the Government for implementing such laws because they are potentially minimising corrupt practices. 

According to Afualo, committees usually gather voters and take them in to register and vote en masse. 

“I am glad the election office is raising awareness to inform the public of the mandates of the law that everyone must vote; also they are going to door- to-door for registration purposes."

The Electoral Commissioner confirmed receiving feedback from candidates, who have welcomed the new changes. 

 “A number of candidates who have come into our office and told us that the law to ban committees have saved them a lot of money and resources especially through rental cars, food, drinks and what not,” he said.  

“And that’s the whole logic behind these law changes in our elections. 

“And that’s also why we’re out there in the committee registering voters because we believe that if the electoral rolls are as accurate as possible, then chances of corrupt practices in our elections are minimum.”

He also noted that some committees in the past had the effect of harassing voters. 

“If their intention for these committees is to transport voters to register and to cast their votes, then that’s unlawful. 

“Some committee members in the past pestered people for their votes. 

“It [actions of the committee members] annoys a lot of people.”

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