Fata Ryan to challenge nomination rejection

Independent candidate, Fata Ryan Schuster, is preparing a legal challenge after his nomination to stand in the General Election was rejected.

Fata alleges that Afega's Village mayor, Taliaoa Viliamu, refused to sign the required proof that the candidate had provided monotaga (service rendered) but instead signed a letter along with the village saying they are against Fata's nomination.

Fata, 46, said questioning his monotaga to the village is an "insult". 

"It's quite sad because I started serving my village when I was only 18-years old, while still in Samoa College as an untitled young man, up to when I became a chief in 2014," he said. 

"My whole village knows. It's an insult saying I don't meet the requirement when the whole of Afega knows that I have been serving the village for a very long time."

He added that the Mayor's decision not to sign his required document has suppressed his right as the citizen of Samoa to stand in the election for a chance to represent his constituency in the Legislative Assembly.

"I know that this is over internal village issues," said Fata. "We spoke before and he told me he won't sign my papers, and I went back again before the deadline and he told me he has considered signing my paper.

"But [I was told] the village wrote a letter against me and [village mayor] is finding it hard to sign my papers because he is also one of those who signed the collective letter.

"I told him that the village's letter is different from your endorsement. If the [village] wants to challenge me, they can take me to Court, but you, the mayor, know I am serving in the village, so sign my paper."

However, after the clock ticked past the nomination deadline, Fata's papers still had not been signed.

He added that efforts to get a copy of the village's letter to assist him in preparing his legal challenge had not been successful.

Efforts by this newspaper to get a comment from Taliaoa Viliamu were not successful as of press time.

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.

However, Fata is not the only candidate from Sagaga No. 2 who is ready to challenge the Office of the Electoral Commission's decision not to process their nomination due to the village mayor not signing the required document.

The Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) Chairman, La’auli Polataivao Schmidt confirmed that Fata Meafou, who is also from Sagaga No. 2 is amongst four F.A.S.T. candidates who are filing a petition before the end of the week to challenge the Office of the Electoral Commission.

The others are: Faleata No. 3, Paloa James Stowers, Sagaga No.1, Papaliitele Tavita Moala and Faasaleleaga No. 5, Seigafolava Sione Masinamua.

Candidates have less than a week to file a petition to challenge the decision of the Electoral Commission. The deadline is this Friday, October 30, 2020.

Under the Electoral Act 2019, section 47(3), a candidate or a person who claims a right to be a candidate may by motion challenge the decision of the Commissioner to accept or reject the nomination of a candidate under this section in the Supreme Court, for an order to qualify or disqualify a candidate.

Challenges must be decided by the Court within 20 working days after the filing of the motion.


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