Stop the bullying, Party leader calls to reinstate Olo and Faumuina
The leader of the Sovereign Independent Samoa (S.I.S.) party, Fesola’i Logoimaliematagi Tepa-Toloa, is calling on Parliament to reinstate two former Members of Parliament whose seats were vacated after falling foul of anti-party-switching laws.
Fesola’i says the decision by Parliament to exclude Olo Fiti Vaai and Faumuina Wayne Fong, is “unlawful and unacceptable”.
“Stop the bullying H.R.P.P.,” she said.
The M.P.s were officially excluded after the former independent M.P.s registered to contest the April election for the Fa'atuatua ile Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party.
The two are challenging the decision by Parliament’s Speaker, Leaupepe Toleafoa Fa’afisi, in court. The Speaker found the M.P.s. breached standing orders by signaling their intent to stand for F.A.S.T. despite their insistence they would remain independents until the election.
In a written statement dated Friday, 20 November, Fesola’i says vacating the two seats is not in line with standing orders or the law.
She calls upon the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) to “stop the bullying.”
She noted that the men are elected representatives of their political constituencies and alleges that Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi is “illegally” stretching his authority.
“We cannot accept the forceful and unlawful vacating of the seats of Olo Fiti Va’ai and Faumuina Wayne Fong, who are the representatives of their political constituencies because it is not according to law nor standing orders,” Fesola’i alleges.
The party leader alleges she has pored over Parliament’s standing orders and found nothing to legally justify the actions taken by the Government.
“The Honorable Prime Minister must understand that he is the Prime Minister for Parliament and Government of Samoa from the years 2016-2020. He is not the Prime Minister of 2021–2025 where these two are proposed candidates.”
Neither the Prime Minister nor Speaker Leaupepe have the authority to declare the seats vacant Fesola’i claims.
“Please read the laws carefully so you can stop erring in your decisions,” Fesola’i advises. “The candidate forms that we all filled [out] as candidates have nothing to do with the present time frame. We are all proposed candidates until elections for [the] years 2021-2025 beginning [when the election is called in] April.”
Fesola’i says the Government should reinstate Faumuina and Olo to their seats and make peaceful amends.
The Speaker, she said, has misinterpreted Article 4 of the Constitution.
Fesola'i said the matter has been “overlooked” by legal advisors to Parliament.
“Let me remind you of the Code of Ethics and the principles it presents,” Fesola’i says.
“We must respect and understand the law in order to exercise the power that is proper and lawful and it means doing the right thing at the right time.
“It is important to align Government priorities in the best interest of the people of Samoa whereby the constituencies that these two members represent are very much a part of.”
Faumuina and Olo have filed a petition in the Supreme Court to challenge Leaupepe's decision to vacate the seats of Salega East and Urban West.
Olo represents Salega East and Faumuina represents Urban West.
Olo confirmed the filing of their petition and said that Mauga Precious Chang will represent them in the matter.
He contends that the Speaker’s decision has resulted in their “illegal removal” from Parliament.
The removal of Olo and Faumuina was the field for a shouting match between the Prime Minister and F.A.S.T. Party leader, La’auli Leuatea Schmidt, in Parliament last week.
The Speaker intervened in the verbal spat and declared the seats vacant but Olo told the Samoa Observer that Leaupepe did not tell the whole story when he made the declaration.
The S.I.S. was launched in April this year. Fesola’i will be the party’s sole election candidate.