F.A.S.T. surprises H.R.P.P. with tie
The Human Rights Protection Party struggled to maintain its majority with rival Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi stealing 25 seats and tying equal with the incumbents.
The provisional results from the General Election (H.R.P.P. 25 – F.A.S.T. 25) from 51 seats shocked the nation as half of long-standing H.R.P.P. caretaker Ministers lost their seats.
In order for one of the parties to take over Government they would have to lure over the sole Independent candidate who will decide the country’s leadership setup for the next 5 years.
Gagaemauga No.1 independent candidate and lawyer Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio will be the deciding factor as to which party will hold the majority in the upcoming XVII Parliamentary term.
The preliminary results surprised many, with the newly established F.A.S.T. upsetting the dominant H.R.P.P., unable to retain its two third majority from the 2016 election.
While the final results were still rolling in at 3am on Saturday at the Tuanaimato Election Headquarters, villagers and candidates had already celebrated their victory as early as 8.30 p.m Friday.
The new political landscape reflected a division amongst the two parties in the main islands; FA.S.T. in control of Savaii and H.R.P.P. ruling Upolu.
Some of the biggest losses to H.R.P.P. so far with unofficial results in hand, is the loss of caretaker Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti to F.A.S.T. woman candidate, Matamua Vasati Pulufaga.
Sili is one of five caretaker Ministers failing to retain power, should the preliminary results remain unchanged.
Still in Savai’i, caretaker Minister of Agriculture, Lopao’o Natanielu Mua succubed to another F.A.S.T. runner, Niuava Eti Malolo.
In Upolu, Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster from F.A.S.T. managed to win back his seat, now the Aana Alofi No.4 seat, that he lost to the caretaker Minister of Communications, Afamasaga Rico Tupai in 2016.
Similarly, the Vaimauga No.4 constituency race saw Faualo Harry Schuster from F.A.S.T. snatch back the seat from caretaker Minister of Justice, Fa’aolesa Katopau Ainu’u which he took over in 2016.
In Anoama’a No. 1, Alai’asa Sepulona Moananu of H.R.P.P. was leading by a mile leaving the caretaker Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt behind.
Those who successfully defended their seats according to unofficial results are; caretaker Minister of Works, Papalii Niko Lee Hang, caretaker Minister of Education, Loau Keneti Sio, caretaker Minister of Tourism, Sala Fata Pinati, caretaker Minister of Public Enterprises, Lautafi Selafi Purcell and caretaker Minister of Health, Faimalomatumua Kika Stowers.
Some of the significant changes from the provisional results is long serving M.P. for Fa’asaleleaga, Gatoloaifa’ana Amataga Gidlow losing to Magele Sekati Fiaui of F.A.S.T.
The seat that has always been ruled by the H.R.P.P. from the time of the former Prime Minister, the late Tofilau Eti Alesana and father of Gatoloai, has now switched sides.
Interestingly, the Fa’asaleleaga district (1, 2, 3, 4) except for Fa’asaleleaga 5 have changed allegiances and now pledge loyalty to the F.A.S.T. party.
Namulaulu Sami Leota (Fa’asaleleaga No.3) lost to former M.P. Papalii Lio Masipau (F.A.S.T.) and former Associate Minister Tofa Lio Foleni (Fa’asaleleaga No.4) came second to Tea Tooala Peato from F.A.S.T.
In addition, Former Deputy Speaker, Nafoitoa Talaimanu Keti couldn’t defend the Gagaemauga No.2 seat from opponent Seuamuli Fasi Toma.
The Gagaifomauga No.2 seat previously held by former Associate Minister Sooalo Umi Mene was taken over by Vaele Paiaaua Sekuini from FA.S.T.
In Salega No.1, newcomer Fepuleai Fa’asavalau Sua won over the seat, upsetting the leader of Tautua Samoa Party Afualo Dr. Wood Salele and former M.P. To’omata Aki Tuipea.
In Upolu, H.R.P.P. is spread out in the Vaimauga district taking over Vaimauga 1, 2, 3 except for Vaimauga 4.
The ruling party has also swept the whole Sagaga district (4 seats) and 2 Safata constituencies.