Village backs out on threat to banish Minister

A senior matai of Salelologa Village, Taotua Ioane, has reneged on a threat to banish the Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, from Salelologa, saying the village has had a change of heart.

Taotua had issued the threat during an interview with the Sunday Samoan last Saturday when he confirmed that the village had met to discuss the the legal challenge filed by Sili against another candidate, Fiu Gasologa Foloki.

“That was the matter discussed in the village fono and it was agreed that Seumanu [matai] from the sub-village of Sili will advise him of the village decision to withdraw his case," Taotua said on Saturday. “Should he decide to proceed with the case – then he should be prepared to be removed from Salelologa.” 

On Monday, however, Taotua said the village has had a change of heart, saying they have decided to let Sili and Fiu sort out the issue in Court.

“We met again last night [Sunday] on that matter,” Taotua said. “We had already decided in previous meetings that we have endorsed them and to go ahead with the election without going to the Court. 

“But Sili has not followed that…it was then decided in the meeting last night (Sunday) that we will leave it like this and whoever wins is the one to represent us.” 

Asked to explain the change of heart, Taotua said: “The whole intention was to keep the peace within the village and that is my responsibility.

“It is now left to Sili and Fiu but this should not happen again in the future…” 

Another matai from the Salelologa, Fonoia Taifau, contacted the Samoa Observer to express his dismay at the decision that was passed down by the Village Council. 

He said while he respects the high chief, the decision from the village should also reflect their respect for the Minister and his position in Government. 

Fonoia confirmed the meeting on Sunday where the village has decided to stay out of the dispute between Sili and Fiu. He added that the village should not intervene with the law and should stay away from getting involved. 

Furthermore, he said that the Minister of Finance was not present during the Saturday’s meeting and should have been given the opportunity to respond before a decision was made. 

Attempts to get a comment from the Minister of Finance have been unsuccessful. 

Fiu was recently approached for a comment and said his lawyer was preparing his case. 

He suspects the petition from Sili is in relation to his police records. 

The matter was called in Court on Monday and has been adjourned until Thursday for Fiu and the Attorney General’s Office on behalf of Electoral Commissioner to provide response. 

Fiu’s nomination was accepted by the Electoral Commissioner to contest from the Fa’asaleleaga I seat. 

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