Mayors declining candidate endorsements illegal: Commissioner
It is illegal for a village mayor to avoid signing a candidate’s election form without a valid reason, the Electoral Commissioner, Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio has confirmed.
Speaking in response to reports of candidates failing to have their nomination forms endorsed by village authorities, Faimalo said “unless” a mayor had a valid reason for doing so they were obliged to endorse a candidate.
Faimalo said it was possible that a candidate who had their nomination to stand for Parliament frustrated in this fashion by a mayor without due cause could possibly have grounds to initiate a lawsuit.
One of the valid reasons that would allow a village mayor to avoid signing a candidate’s documents would be the candidate’s failure to meet their monotaga (local contribution) requirement.
“I mean why would he sign it if the candidate doesn’t do monotaga in the village?,” Faimalo said.
The endorsement of the village mayor for each election candidate is required as a confirmation of the candidates’ satisfaction of the monotaga requirement.
Under the Electoral Act 2019, Monotaga is the compulsory service, assistance or contribution in the form of cash, kind or goods rendered for customary, traditional or religious activities, events, function or similar purposes in a particular village.
The document filled out by village mayors is amongst other paperwork confirming a candidate’s citizenship, matai title certification, and residential status of having lived in Samoa, ending with the day on which the nomination paper is lodged with the Electoral Commissioner.
Just two weeks have been set aside to process nominations between 12 October and until the final day for nominations on Friday 23 October.
The first week of nomination will be conducted in Savai’i at Don Bosco Hall in Salelologa, for the first three days and for Upolu for the rest of the nomination period at the Ministry of Public Enterprise Conference room at the Samoa National Provident Fund S.N.P.F. Plaza.
Political parties are required to submit their lists of registered candidates during the nomination period.
Candidates who intend to switch from one political party to another before the general election have until the end of the nomination period to do so.
According to Faimalo, candidates in the registered list submitted by political parties may not switch allegiance after the two-week nomination period closes.
Otherwise, the only chance for a candidate to switch over to another party is after the election.