Mayor of Faleula ready to take candidate fight to Supreme Court
The village mayor of Faleula, Fetaia'i Va'auli, is standing by a decision to reject the candidacy of Papali’i Panoa Moala and is willing to defend his decision all the way to the Supreme Court.
Papali’i was unable to register as a candidate for the April election because the village mayor has refused to sign off that he has completed a mandatory monotaga (service) requirement.
“He does not serve in our village. I will not sign on something that is not accurate. He is not involved in affairs of our village,” said Fetaia'i.
“And I am ready to face him in court.”
The Member of Parliament for the seat, Sagaga le Falefa is Minister of Education Sports and Culture Loau Keneti Sio; who is one of just three unopposed candidates across the election.
“When I went to the pulenuu (village mayor) to sign my monotaga he told me that the village has already met and agreed that Loau is the only candidate,” Papali’i said.
Papalii in an earlier interview, said since he was bestowed the title Papalii in 1997 he had rendered service to his village together with service to the church.
But in 2018 the commercial farmer said he was banished from the village with two other cousins.
According to Papali’i he later lodged a case in court but later withdrew it when he and matai from the village agreed to reconcile the matter.
But since then, he claims that they were not allowed back.
After receiving a rejection notice from the Electoral Commissioner, Papalii said he will now head to the courthouse to challenge it.
“I am not worried because I know I rendered my monotaga,” he said.
“It is now for the court to decide on it and to interpret the law.”
Fetaia'i said the Electoral Act emphasises that one must village service.
“This man does not render service to the village, and as indicated I will not endorse something that is wrong,” he alleged.
“He does not live in our village and his chiefly title was handed down by the Malietoa [family] but it was allowed back then. In the end he does not render services in our village.”
Fetaia'i added this was also discussed in the village council including the fact that it is in the Electoral Act:
“I will not [endorse] his candidacy requirement form and I will see him in court,” he said.
He added the village has supported his decision and they are willing to take their opposition to Papali’i’s candidature all the way to the Supreme Court.
Papali'i took the Government to court over the Electoral Act 2019 last month alongside Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio, arguing changes to the law were designed to favour the sitting Government.