Valasi appointed S.N.D.P. leader, says party ready for 2021

A former Member of Parliament, Valasi Toogamaga Tafito, has been unanimously appointed to lead the Samoa National Democratic Party (S.N.D.P.) into the 2021 General Election.

He has also confirmed his candidacy for the constituency of Vaisigano No. 2, the seat he previously held, where he will be up against incumbent Member of Parliament, Tapulesatele Mauteni Esera.

In an interview with the Samoa Observer, Valasi said 25 members attended a party caucus meeting at Tanu Beach Fales in Savai'i last week Thursday where the decision for his elevation to the leadership was made unanimously. 

"Firstly I thank God for this calling. I cannot help but reminisce about the day this party was launched, last year on [11 September 2019]. It was the same date America went through something big [in 2001]," he said.

"We chose this day because while some think lightly of it, we think of it as a date we revived something that was in the ashes.

"What we said that day to the Prime Minister was that we will be seeking out candidates to challenge their unquestionable power as they have spent years taking on the responsibility of running the country.

"And so far, we have successfully met with S.N.D.P. candidates, and despite my resignation from interim duties, they unanimously decided to nominate me as a leader and there was no ballot. Nomination endorsements came from seniors of the party, including Tea Peato."

Vui Seigafolava Sione Masinamua was elected by the caucus as the deputy leader of the S.N.D.P. party. He also confirmed his candidacy for the constituency of Faasaleleaga No. 5 from the village of Lano.

The S.N.D.P. Secretary has been named as Tupuivao Lesina Fonoti from Samalaeulu, contesting for the Gagaemauga No. 1 seat. 

That will put her up against the Minister of Tourism, Sala Fata Pinati.

Meanwhile, Magele Sekati was elected to be the caucus whip. Magele will be running against Gatoloaifaana Afamasaga Gidlow to represent the constituency of Faasaleleaga No. 2.

Valasi also confirmed that so far, 20 candidates have registered to run for office under the S.N.D.P. flag including former Members of Parliament.

"We are not picking just anybody who wants to run for Parliament. Some of our candidates are those who were also in Parliament," he said.

"We shall see as we get closer to the General Election how many will be contesting under the flag of S.N.D.P., but the goal is to have one from each constituency.

"We ended our caucus meeting on that day with words of encouragement from our patron, Papalii Titiuatoa Malietoa.

"The S.N.D.P. is ready to contest in the 2021 General Elections."

Valasi highlighted that the spirit of the S.N.D.P. 's campaign strategy was not to discredit the Government's record on development as many other parties seem to be currently focused on, but instead to look towards what is good for Samoa and propose improvements.

Deputy leader Vui said the manifesto was yet to be completed.

"The Manifesto is written by the people. Because when it is written by one person, there is no real context. Just like the many policies that are written within air-conditioned walls, by people who know nothing about what is happening in the villages," said Vui.

"It will be launched soon and by the time it is implemented, it will be so easy for the people to execute it because it was them who wrote it, it was their voices that formed it."

Despite this, the top issue to be addressed in the yet-to-be-ready policy platform of the S.N.D.P is to repeal any changes to Samoan law the party regards as unconstitutional, specifically the Lands and Titles Registration Act (L.T.R.A.) 2008.

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