Gagaifomauga No.3 by-election underway in Savai'i

The by-election for the Gagaifomauga No.3 constituency is underway on the big island of Savai'i. 

A total of 1,445 voters headed to the poll this morning to cast their votes on their next representative for the remaining months of this Parliamentary term before April’s national elections. 

The seat for the constituency consists of the villages of Aopo, Letui, Sasina and Fagae'e was declared vacant after it was deemed that the former Member of Parliament, La'aulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt, had resigned from Parliament. 

La’auli, a former Speaker and Minister, disputed that he had ever formally resigned from Parliament. But he then established a new political party, Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) and is now up against an independent candidate, Fa'aulusau Simi Laulua. 

In just a few hours, a new M.P. for Gagaifomauga No.3 will be named. 

As of 12:30 this afternoon, a total of 882 voters (61%) had cast their votes. Polling is due to close at 3pm.

One voter, Ikenasio Vaisigano, a 67-year-old from Fagae'e, said he was excited to finally vote again for "who he thinks is the best representative" for their constituency.

"As you know, we have been waiting for election day," he told the Samoa Observer after casting his vote. 

"I am just as happy as all the other voters because we were all looking forward to today.

"People started lining up to vote early in the morning and you can see from the smiles on their faces that they are happy to be here for this historical event. 

"The reason why we say that this is a historical event, is because this is the first time we have a by-election. We were all looking forward to the election next year, without thinking that this would happen. 

"But we can not do anything about it."

As a matai and constituent of Gagaifomauga No.3,  Ikenasio emphasised the significance of voting. 

"It is our job to voice our opinion by voting," the 67-year-old stated. 

"We vote for who we believe is the right person to represent us in parliament. From the past, we have noticed that a lot of people vote for people who give them money and food ahead of the election. 

"That's not the case for us. I voted for the person who has the quality of a leader and is a great role model for our younger generation. 

"Someone who is courageous and is not afraid to voice the opinions of the people. Someone who prioritises the needs and wants of the people and who is loving and kind-hearted. 

"In the past, we have some situations where we have Member of Parliament who only shows up in the constituency when it's near election time. And that what happens if you vote only for money and wealth."

The preliminary results will be out today while the official and final count will be conducted tomorrow. 

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