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Businessman challenging Minister withdraws candidacy

A businessman who registered as a candidate to challenge the Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, for the Faasaleleaga Number 1 seat has withdrawn from the race.

Fiu Gasologa Foloki withdrew his candidacy on the eve of a legal battle with the Minister, who has opted to go to the Supreme Court to question his political rival’s eligibility.

The matter returns to the court on Friday to schedule the hearing date in the upcoming weeks.

Contacted for a comment Fiu declined and insisted that this newspaper called back as he was in a meeting. Follow up phone calls placed were not answered. 

Attempts to obtain comments from the Electoral Commissioner, Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio were unsuccessful. 

The latest development follows reports of tension in the village of Salelologa after the Minister of Finance filed a petition against Fiu last week. 

A village meeting was called on Saturday morning where the senior matai of Salelologa, Taotua Ioane, confirmed a decision to banish Sili if he did not withdraw his case. 

But that decision was reneged when another village was called again on Sunday. 

According to Taotua, the village has decided against banishing Sili and has concluded that it stays away from the dispute. 

“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.” 

Another senior matai of Salelologa, Fonoia Taifau, had expressed dismay at the decision reached by the village council to banish the Minister. 

He said that the decision should reflect some respect for Sili who holds a ministerial position in the Government. 

In addition, he said that the village should not intervene with the law and should stay away from getting involved. 

The withdrawing of Fiu’s candidacy leaves only a female candidate from the Fa’atuatua ile Atua Samo aua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party, Matamua Seumanu Pulufana who will run against Sili. 

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