Clerk says Speaker's decision based on Standing Orders
The Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Tiatia Graeme Tualaulelei, says former Members of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai and Faumuina Wayne Fong, whose seats were vacated recently, breached Parliament's Standing Orders.
They did this when they declared their allegiance to the Faatuatua Samoa Ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) for next year's General Election, he said.
Tiatia did not respond to questions from the Samoa Observer about the matter. But he is quoted by the state-owned Savali newspaper that the Speaker’s ruling was based on a breach of Standing Orders and other related legislations by the two M.Ps.
Olo who was the M.P. for Salega East and Faumuina for Urban West seat were recently served with an order from the Speaker that declared their seats vacant.
Tiatia claimed the same ruling was also applied to former M.Ps such as Vaai Papu Solia, Palusalue Fa’apo II and Associate Minister Lealailepule Rimoni Aiagi in the 2006 – 2011 Parliamentary term.
He said the members had their seats vacated and had returned to a bi-election in 2010 when they declared candidacy nominations for the Tautua Samoa party in 2011 General Election.
Reference was made to the Standing Orders 2016, for members Oath of Allegiance.
The Standing Orders states that any member who ceases to be a member of a party under which he notified as required by its parliamentary membership shall be recognised as independent member for the rest of the parliamentary term.
In the Electoral Act 2019 section 140, a member elected as an independent Member who takes the oath of allegiance as an independent Member must remain as an independent Member for the Parliamentary term.
The electoral law states that a seat becomes vacant if the member resigns from a political party to join another party during the parliamentary term.
Olo had recently indicated that they are challenging the Order from the Speaker to vacate their seat.
“The Electoral Act has many loopholes in it and I am challenging the process,” Olo said.
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 legal advice.
According to Olo, his registration with F.A.S.T. is for the general election in 2021 and should not affect his current position as the representative of his constituency
On Monday, Olo was accompanied by Faumuina when he met with the Speaker over this matter.