Electoral Commissioner quashes claims
The Electoral Commissioner, Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio, has rejected claims that the Office of the Electoral Commission (O.E.C.) has political affiliations and that it needs to be independent.
Contacted by the Samoa Observer for a comment, Faimalo said: "O.E.C. doesn’t care who wins or who loses the elections."
He also referred to the Electoral Commission Bill 2019, which gave them full autonomous status when it was passed in Parliament last year.
Faimalo reminded that the O.E.C. has "always" been independent in executing its core functions of registering voters, managing and administering elections advising Cabinet, through the Honourable Minister, of issues relating to elections.
"This status was further elevated when Cabinet approved the Electoral Commission Bill 2019, which was later passed by Parliament in Act, to give this Office the full autonomous status," Faimalo said.
Asked if he himself has political affiliations or his Office, Faimalo bluntly said: "Nope" (no).
"Our role is to ensure that the electoral process is free, fair and inclusive," he said.
"Who wins or who loses the elections is completely up to the voters when they get to have their say through their vote. "
Faimalo further recommended for those further questioning the independence of the O.E.C. to join the team for a week to get a first-hand insight into their work.
"Get a first-hand experience of how we operate. Experience the nature of the work that we deal with, the challenges that come with it and how our team address them," he said.
On Tuesday, former Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mataafa called for the O.E.C. to be independent and without any political affiliation.
“Mr. Speaker, it appears from the dialogue that just because we are Members of the Legislative Assembly, its seems that we make legislations that protect those in Parliament, or others that support different political parties and that,” Fiame said.
“Honourable Speaker, this is why I believe it is important for the Office of the Electoral Commissioner to be independent because it is different from our circle of people that deal with legislation and politics.
“We need to protect it to ensure the independence of this office to guarantee there is equality in our elections and our electoral laws so that there is no bias or discrimination against others.”
Fiame did not say who she was referring to as "others."
When she was a member of the H.R.P.P., Fiame was once the Minister for the Office of the Electoral Commission.