Women candidates show interest in running
More than 20 female candidates have suggested an interest to contest in next year’s general election.
The Electoral Commissioner, Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio was questioned on what steps they might take if by the time of the election an inadequate number of female candidates had registered.
But Faimalomatumua said they had received inquiries from a considerable number of female candidates ahead of nominations closing.
Under the terms of a constitutional amendment, the Parliament must have at least five female representatives at any given time.
"We cannot force women to run," Faimalomatumua said.
"[But] so far, we've received up to 20 women who indicated their interest in the election. But we will find that out [from] the [12-23 October] when we open the nomination period.
"That is when you will know the number of women who will run in the election.
"We have more than five women who have come into our office, asking questions about the eligibility rules and so forth.
"[But] whether they want to run or not, that is not our position; that is their prerogative. But the platforms are there, it is up to them to utilise those platforms."
He went on to say that the eligibility rules are the same for men and women who are interested in running. He said both men and women who are interested in contesting should render their monotaga (or service to their village) they are going to contest from.
"For women; it doesn't change [any] facts, whether you're a woman or a man, once you become a matai, you will have the same obligations,” he said.
"[The] monotaga [requirement] is always still there. You don't have to sit in a village council to render monotaga. As long as you are a matai, you can render your monotaga without sitting in the village council.
"That is your duty as a church-goer, even your monotaga [culturally]. That is your duty as a matai, once you become a matai, you are required to render your service.
"You do not have to wait until you want to run in the election [when] you can render [...] monotaga. I think that's an insult to the fa'a-matai in this country. The [process of staging general elections] started in the year 1963, but the fa'a-matai has been there all along.
"The advice is, once you become a matai, go and render your monotaga."