Former Agriculture Minister files challenge

The caretaker Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries (M.A.F.), Lopao'o Natanielu Mu'a refuses to accept his defeat following the results of this year's election. 

The former M.P. for the Vaisigano No.1 is hoping to claim his seat back by challenging the victory of Niuava Eti Malolo of the Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) political party in court. 

The official counts of this year's elections show that Niuava polled a total of 823 votes, while Lopao'o collected a total of 541 votes. 

When contacted for a comment, Lopao'o immediately declined to make a statement. 

"I don't mean to be disrespectful, but I have got nothing to say," he responded to Samoa Observer. 

Similarly, Niuava refused to make a comment saying he did not have the details of the petition filed against him. 

"I cannot comment on something I am not fully aware of," Niuava said. 

"I have not seen the documents and am unaware of what the basis is for this petition, as I am yet to meet with my lawyer. But I will say something when I see the documents."

The challenger, Lopao'o, was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of Samoa in the 2016 General Elections. 

He took on the role of the Minister of M.A.F. in 2017, taking over from La'auli Leuatea Schmidt who had stepped down from his Cabinet post following criminal charges filed against him by Police. The charges were subsequently dismissed by the Supreme Court last year. 

Lopao'o told this newspaper prior to the election that becoming a Cabinet Minister was never part of his plans when stepping into the political arena. 

"I never wanted to be a Minister to start with, but I ended up in a place I didn't want or expect to be," he said.

"It was not that I did not want to do it because of the responsibilities and all that, but it was just that I thought there were other better people for the job. 

"I only wanted to be a Member of Parliament, be the voice, and represent my constituency in Parliament. But then, when I was appointed by the Honorable Prime Minister three and a half years ago, things were different from then on. I probably started a new chapter in my life that I never anticipated.

"But I did my best; my very best. I can see that the best is yet to come out of me," Lopao'o said fighting to hold back tears. 

For Niuava, the former Senior public servant at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E.) immediately acknowledged God's love and mercy for his victory.  

"This journey from the beginning, when I first felt like this is something I should do was no walk in the park. It was not easy, and there were so many hurdles to overcome down the road. But we are here, and we are thankful and grateful."

"I am overwhelmed with joy, and it's thanks to our God for his guidance, protection, and love all throughout this journey," Niuava said. 

"I am a strong believer that God has different callings and plans for our lives. He already has everything planned out and in his time, we shall see what those plans are."

A total of 28 election petitions were confirmed filed with the Supreme Court of Samoa at the close of Friday evening. 



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