F.A.S.T. invites Fiame to lead
Samoa’s outgoing Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, has been invited to lead the country’s newest opposition party, Fa’atuatua ile Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.), leader Laaulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt says.
“Fiame [was] the first female Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa and we want to see her become the first female Prime Minister of Samoa,” La’auli said in an interview with the Samoa Observer hours after Fiame tendered her resignation as Deputy Prime Minister.
“I knew this day would come, where she has had enough.
“Fiame was born to lead.
“And I am not surprised with her decision to resign, because this was a long time coming.”
Attempts to seek comments from Fiame via text message and a phone call were not returned on Friday evening.
On Friday, Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa resigned from the Cabinet and said she was now “free” after meeting the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, to tender her letter of resignation.
La’auli, who was the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, said that Fiame was his “go-to person” when in need of assistance during his time in Cabinet.
“Prior to the time I was ousted by the [Human Rights Political Party (H.R.P.P.)] she was the one that I asked for assistance,” he said.
La’auli said he would readily relinquish his position as a leader of the party that has recently merged with two others in an attempt to challenge the Government, with a platform that includes scrapping Land and Titles Court (L.T.C.) reforms.
Disagreement about the proposed court overhaul brought Fiame into conflict with Tuilaepa which ultimately led to him calling for her resignation.
“My job is to serve. There are kings and kingmakers and I am a kingmaker; me and my family played a huge role in molding the H.R.P.P. [into the shape] it is now because of our role [is] to mold the next leader of this country,” he said.
F.A.S.T. was formed after La’auli was officially ejected from the party of Government in May following an ongoing dispute with Tuilaepa and then had his seat in Parliament declared vacant.
La’auli was returned to Parliament with an increased majority by the voters of Gagaifomauga No. 3 last month, making him the first parliamentary representative.
“I looked up to her and as indicated previously I am not surprised. I knew how tough and difficult the situation she was in,” said La’auli.
La’auli said prior to leaving the H.R.P.P. he had to inform Fiame of his decision.
“I felt obligated to tell Fiame why I was leaving the party because we fought hard to protect the integrity of the H.R.P.P. and our work shaped the party in its current form,” he said.
“I am happy [Fiame] made an honest decision and a lovely decision for Samoa. Again this does not surprise me, but I understood what she was going through, putting up with all of that but I think she has had enough.
“My father [the late M.P. Polataivao Fosi] a founding member of the H.R.P.P. and his time finished while serving and I am following in his footsteps. That is my mission now and I was waiting for [Fiame]; she is the only person I was waiting for.
“Fiame is free and I say this because everyone was tightlipped to protect the integrity of the [H.R.P.P.] but sadly it [had] gotten to the point where it was too much and enough is enough.”
La’auli did not specify what issues that led them to “protect the integrity” of the party.
He then turned to the H.R.P.P. saying that it no longer stands for what it was founded on.
La’auli then explained why he had to leave the party.
“The Prime Minister’s goal was to assassinate my political career and he did everything to bring me down. [Prime Minister] did not consider my years of service his goal was to get me down and he did, but I am back.”
The former Cabinet Minister commended Fiame for deciding to do the same.
“They are not protecting the rights of the people anymore, just their members.”
La’auli continued praising Fiame’s “brave” decision by standing up for what she believes in.
Earlier this month F.A.S.T. announced it would be joining forces with the Samoa National Democratic Party (S.N.D.P.) and Tumua ma Pule.
The three party coalition agreed on a single candidate policy or an agreement not to run competing candidates in seats at next year’s April poll.
While running under the single F.A.S.T. banner, the parties will retain their own unique manifestos and platforms.