Brothers take election battle to Court
An election-motivated family feud is brewing at Palauli, Savai'i, where the incumbent Member of Parliament, Tuifa'asisina Misa Lisati, is taking his brother, Aiolupotea Toni Leleisiuao, to Court to challenge his eligibility as a candidate.
Tuifa'asisina is also the Associate Minister of Public Enterprises.
He and his brother, Aiolupotea, had their nominations as candidates approved by the Electoral Commissioner for the Palauli III seat.
Attempts by the Sunday Samoan to get a comment from the brothers were unsuccessful.
But the petitions list from the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration confirmed the dispute with the Associate Minister being listed as the Applicant while his brother Aiolupotea and the Electoral Commissioner are listed as respondents.
A former public servant, Aiolupotea was the Assistant Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. He had recently exited M.A.F. to contest for the 2021 General Election.
Tuifa'asisina is also challenging another candidate for the Palauli III constituency, Mata’afa Fonofa’avae.
The two petitions from the Associate Minister make up a total of twenty petition relating to candidate eligibility for the April 2021 General Elections filed at 12 noon on Friday.
The Ministry of Justice Courts and Administration (M.J.C.A.) Chief Executive Officer, Moliei Simi Vaai said the petitions will be heard and determined before the Supreme Court within 20 working days counting from Friday.
Among the petitions is one filed by Fuatimau Maumea Leniu against former Member of Parliament for Vaisigano 1, Magailefua Maposua Faitua.
He previously contested under his Tufuga title and later lost the Vaisigano I seat against Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Lopao’o Natanielu Mua in the 2016 election.
The former M.P. had lodged his nomination to contest from the Vaimauga no1 seat with three other candidates.
The petition filed by Fuatimau against Magailefua is questioning his eligibility of rendering service to the village of Lauli’i for three years.
On the petition list are two candidates from Sagaga 2; Fata Ryan Schuster and Fata Meafou against the Electoral Commissioner after their nominations were rejected.
Lawyer Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio has also filed two separate eligibility challenge together with Tevaga Tupuivao Mapusaga and Leoa Tauti Faaleolea in the Supreme Court.
The candidates are vying for the Gagaemauga 1 constituency.
From the Fa’atuatua ile Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) the party has three candidates that have had their nominations rejected and are heading to Court.
They are Paloa Louis Stowers, Fata Meafou and Papalii Tavita Moala.
To’i Ioane Ilalio running under the Samoa First banner is also challenging the decision from the Electoral Commissioner to reject his nomination.
Su’a Samuelu Su’a of Samusu flying the Tautua Samoa Party flag had his registration to run from the Aleipata Itupa I Lalo denied.
Deputy Leader of the Samoan National Democratic Party, Vui Seigafolava Masinamua is appealing the verdict from the Electoral Commissioner to deny his nomination.
The Incumbent M.P. for Alataua Sisifo, Aliimalemanu Alofa Tuuau also filed a petition.
In regards to screening process for candidates, Electoral Commissioner, Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio said the law was changed to allow candidates to challenge the Electoral Commissioner’s decision to reject or accept nominations.
“Under the recent rules, the onus was on the candidates through executed Statutory Declarations to prove that they’ve satisfied all the requirements of the law,” said Faimalo.
“Now, the onus is on the O.E.C. to ensure that candidates they’ve accepted or rejected have been thoroughly checked and that the E.C. is satisfied that candidates had fulfilled the eligibility requirements of the law or otherwise before a decision was given.”
The Commissioner added that is why the screening process was more stringent this year and its all for a good purpose.
“Finally we need to emphasise that our Office we did not apply it differently to any candidate base on their political party affiliations,” he said.