Gagaifomauga No.3 ready for by-election
After weeks of waiting, the constituents for Gagaifomauga No.3 will now head to the polls on Friday to vote for a new Member of Parliament.
The by-election is the result of a decision by the Speaker of Parliament, Leaupepe Tole'afoa Fa'afisi, to declare the seat vacant after the former Member of Parliament La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao, verbally resigned from the Parliament.
Two candidates are vying for the seat, they include the Former Speaker and Cabinet Minister, La’auli, who triggered the by-election by resigning from parliament. He is the head of the newly established Faatuatua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party.
The other is Fa'aulusau Simi Laulua, who is running as an independent candidate.
While the by-election is rare and a new experience for the constituency of Gagaifomauga No.3, the elders say they are "more than happy and ready" to get it over and done with.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer on Thursday, the high chief from the village Aopo says they are anticipating the result of the by-election.
"It's sad that we had to do this by-election months away from the National Election," Pa'o told the Samoa Observer.
"But we are happy and ready to vote for whoever we believe is going to be the perfect representative for our constituency."
Asked if the village of Aopo is confident their candidate is going to succeed, Pa'o said the decision is not for them to make.
"That is for God to decide," he said.
"We believe that God will choose whoever is right for us. We rely on God and we shall wait and see."
Aopo is the only village out of the four villages that make up the Gagaifomauga No.3 which is not supporting La'auli. They nominated Fa'aulusau as their candidate, even after the Faletolu (Fagae'e, Sasina and Letui) approached them.
According to Pa'o, the main reason why they nominated a candidate was that they were kept in the dark with La'auli's resignation from the Parliament saga.
"We did not know why he resigned and we were not officially informed of the details. But we cannot say much about that anymore because it's all in the past now.
"We did not like how we were always kept in the dark as if we [Aopo] is not part of the constituency that La'auli represented in Parliament.
"So the elders met and discussed and came to the conclusion that we will be nominating a different candidate. That's why we asked Fa'aulusau to run for the election."
Lastly, Pa'o used the opportunity to send the two candidates well wishes ahead of Friday's election.
"La'auli is no stranger to us," Pa'o said.
"And I send him my regards and wish him all the best for the by-election. That's the same for Fa'aulusau, I wish him all the best.
"As I said before, we rely on God to decide a tofi (representative) for our constituency.
For the Faletolu (Fagae'e, Sasina, and Letui), the high chief, Polataivao Pouvalu from Fagae'e was approached for a comment and last messages before the big day.
Polataivao was emotional when he spoke to the Samoa Observer, reminiscing the old days and the struggles of their forefathers.
"As we've said before, we humbly accepted the will of the Government and we are ready to do the by-election.
"We have no ill feelings toward the Government and whatever happened to the past that led to this by-election. But the truth is, with humility, we are doing this by-election just so we can vote for a representative for our constituency.
"Even though we feel like this by-election is a waste of money and time, we are still going to do it."
Polataivao promised that they are going to have a clean and fair election.
"We approached Aopo in the beginning because we wanted to be united and get behind La'auli who has been serving the constituency.
"But they have every right to choose their candidate and have someone run against La'auli.
"The only reason why we approached them was so there won't be any friction among the people in the constituency. However, it didn't work in our favor.
"But that's okay, we are more than happy to go ahead and vote for our tofi."
Nevertheless, Polataivao said they are confident La'auli will return to office after Friday's election.
"The feeling is different," he said.
"This is different from the elections we've had in the past. However, everyone from the Faletolu is excited and is happy to travel to Savai'i to vote.
"They were given the option to vote in Apia, but they wanted to be here and show their support, which is great to see.
"We know everyone is backing La'auli and knowing that three villages are behind La'auli, we are relaxed.
"We do not want to sound like we are too sure of ourselves, but to be honest, one against three villages, you can simply expect the result."
But they are relying on God, said Polataivao.
"We will leave everything to God and depend on his selection.
"God will decide and we will listen and obey whatever the decision is."
Polataivao's last message for the candidates is simple.
"We wish both of you all the best for the election.
"To the constituents, let's vote for whoever we believe will voice our opinions freely and has the courage to stand up for what is right."