Veteran M.P. Valasi returned

Samoa National Democratic Party (S.N.D.P.) leader, Valasi Toogamaga Tafito, is leading the Vaisigano No. 2 district race - positioning him to return as the seat's representative after a 15-year break, preliminary figures show. 

Valasi, whose party is in an alliance with Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) has been leading the seat's tally since pre-polling finished last Thursday. 

After Friday's main election, he extended his lead over the seat's incumbent M.P., Tapulesatele Mauteni Esera, preliminary results released on Friday evening show. 

Preliminary results, including pre-polling booths, show Valasi and Tapulesatele are separated by only 75 votes. Valasi has attracted 579 votes compared to 504 votes in Tapulesatele's favour.

Vaisigano No. 2 votes were cast in four separate locations including the Fagasa Assembly of God, Sataua E.F.K.S., Sataua Methodist and Papa Sataua E.F.K.S.

At the end of four days of pre-polling on Thursday, Valasi led with 18 more votes compared to his Hunman Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) opponent, 65 to 47. 

Valasi, who describes himself as a simple man with a background in farming, was previously the M.P. for the constituency from 1996 to 2006.

Preliminary results show that Tapulesatele had collected more votes from polling booths in Papa Sataua and Sataua E.F.K.S., but it was not enough to beat Valasi. 

The S.N.D.P. leader is married and a father to eight children. 

Last September, the S.N.D.P, Tumua ma Puleono and F.A.S.T. announced they would combine ahead of the April election by agreeing not to run candidates against each other. 

The quasi-merger was designed to do all that was possible to ensure that there would be, at the least, a strong opposition force in Parliament to take on the incumbent Government. Preliminary results show that the agreement has paid off. 

The arrangement has also brought Valasi under the F.A.S.T. banner, the party for which he is contesting the seat.

Valasi has previously clarified that although all candidates are running under F.A.S.T.'s banner as part of the agreement, each respective political party will still exist as its own entity and with its own priorities. 

"It is clear to each and every one of us that we are all running under F.A.S.T., but the development of our individual political parties continue because we are all legally recognised political parties," he said.

"Even if I win the seat, we are all under F.A.S.T. together; we are competing with one ticket, one arrangement. There are times when we have our own [S.N.D.P.] meetings after our F.A.S.T. meetings, talking about our plans and developments." 

In February, he told voters they will restore “dignity” to the nation’s Parliament lamenting what he said were declining standards of behaviour in Parliament.  

Valasi said Samoa's Parliament has become "a figure of fun", not only with the kind of language used in parliamentary sessions but through Members of Parliament’s behaviour.

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