Olo sues Speaker over vacated seat
Former Independent Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai, is taking the Speaker of the House, Leaupepe Toleafoa Fa’afisi, to court over his decision to vacate his parliamentary seat.
Former Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai, had his seat, Salega No. 2, declared vacant by the Speaker last Thursday.
The declaration was made official when he received a letter from the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Leaupepe Toleafoa Fa’afisi.
“I am taking the Speaker to court over the legalities of how my seat has been vacated. The Electoral Act has many loopholes in it and I am challenging the process,” Olo told the Samoa Observer.
Faleata No. 2 Member of Parliament, Faumuina Leatinu'u Fong was also served with the same letter and will join the suit.
The independent M.P.s were kicked out of Parliament under anti-party switching legislation after they registered to run for the Faatuatua I le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party at the next general election.
Olo declined to detail the grounds on which the lawsuit would be based and the Speaker’s ruling would be contested but confirmed that he had retained Mauga Precious Chang and Muriel Lui as legal representatives.
According to Olo, his registration with F.A.S.T. is for the general election in 2021.
The Speaker, a member of the ruling Human Rights Protection Party has declared that he will not contest in the upcoming general election (at a recent party conference he protested a medical requirement he said had prevented him from running, saying a doctor had told him he could not run because he was sick).
“He declared his resignation for the upcoming election and I registered for the upcoming election, do you see the disparity in this picture?,” Olo said.
“The Speaker has resigned and will not run for office, we, on the other hand, are contesting, how could someone who is not running for office declare our seats vacant?
“Is that legal?
“Also the process in how our seats were vacated wasn’t followed. It was done illegally.”
On Monday, Olo was accompanied by Faumuina when he met with the Speaker over this matter.
“We had a lengthy yet productive meeting with the Speaker,” said Olo.
Efforts including a visit to his office at the Parliament building and his business, to get comments from the Speaker over Olo’s claims were unsuccessful.
The decision to vacate the former independents’ seats was made under anti-party switching laws.
It means voters in both seats will not have a representative sitting in Parliament for the final two sittings of this term of Parliament, next month and January next year.
Olo also questioned why the seats of the M.P.’s who will no longer run for office, such as Minister of Health, Tuitama Dr Leao Tuitama and Aeau Peniamina, will also not be vacated.
“They are not running for office and this is public knowledge, why are their seats not vacated,” asked Olo.
Tuitama confirmed with the Samoa Observer that he’d opted to retire from politics last month; regarding Aeau, High Chiefs of Falelupo confirmed his retirement and it is also reflected in the list of candidates issued by the Office of the Electoral Commissioner.