Candidate banishment issue divides Manono tai

Manono tai is divided after a decision by parts of the island to banish a former M.P. and current election candidate has become the subject of a dispute, the Samoa Observer can reveal. 

The To'afa-o-Alii (the collective name given to villages on the island) is in dispute, about whether to banish current Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) candidate, Leiataualesa Mulipola Taupau Oliva.

The To'afa-o-Alii is composed of Salua, Faleu, Lepua'i and Apai.

The Mayor of Salua, Auapaau Tailalo, confirmed with the Samoa Observer that the decision was made last month.

Leiataualesa, is set to contest in the 2021 General Election for the Aiga i le Tai seat from the village of Faleū.

"Yes, the four villages had made the collective decision during a meeting to banish him from the village," Auapaau said.

"And we still hear he is still running under his Leiataua title, so we have summoned another meeting at Faleu to determine the matter in regards to [Leiataualesa], he's the one that has been banished."

Auapaau was hesitant to reveal the full reasoning behind the extreme decision of the villages, claiming it is a delicate subject he will not elaborate on because he does not fully understand it.

"But as the usual way of things, which everyone over here understands, is that we are very careful when it comes to such matters. In short, the village had learned some things on online platforms about his small interactions and the village is not happy about it," he said.

"The village does not want to be associated with such things, especially when he is a holder of great chief titles, Taupau and Mulipola."

Meanwhile, Leiataualesa said he has no intentions from withdrawing from the election as long as he has the support of his village, he told the Samoa Observer. 

He reiterated that he is the candidate of Faleu and listens to his village.

An elderly representative from Faleu, Talo Tele'a told this newspaper that Faleu's support remains with their sole candidate running for a seat in Parliament.

He added that Faleu's opinion is the only one that matters in regards to Leiataualesa's candidacy.

"The village of Salua decided to banish him due to his Mulipola and Taupau titles, but here in Faleu where there is Leiataualesa, they have no say," he said.

"The whole of Faleu have thrown their support behind Leiataua Oliva to be our sole representative to run in the election."

Talo said the village of Faleu is ready to face the To'afa in the upcoming meeting saying their decision will not change.

"[In the last meeting of the four villages] we had asked them to forgive Leiataua but they instead they left the meeting midway," Talo revealed.

"And if they come back with the same decision, all we will say is go ahead with their banishment but we have prepared to take our candidate to election, they have no say."

During Leiataualesa's time in Parliament after winning a seat in 2006, he was the youngest ever politician to have won a seat in Parliament at 32-years-old.

He was a member of Samoan Democratic United Party (S.D.U.P.) at that time.

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