Peace, normalcy vital during counting

By The Editorial Board 26 November 2021, 11:49PM

The counting of the ballots for the six constituencies got underway overnight to determine the final makeup of the XVII Legislative Assembly following Friday's polling.

It was good to see voters in the constituencies exercising their democratic rights during the by-elections on Friday and pre-polling two-days earlier, to bring to a close a long drawn-out electoral process that began in April this year.

At the end of the counting new Members-elect will be declared for the Sagaga No. 2, Sagaga No. 4, Aana Alofi No. 2, Safata No. 2, Falealili No. 2 and the Aleipata Itupa i Lalo constituencies.

The country’s two dominant political parties Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) and the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) will watch the electoral proceedings with interest. 

The governing party would be keen to boost its numbers beyond its current 27 seats with rivals H.R.P.P. hopeful that it secures all six remaining seats to add to its current 18 – and wait for the outcome of the Office of Electoral Commission’s (O.E.C.) determination of a contentious constitutional clause – which requires a minimum 10 per cent of M.P.s in the new Parliament are women.

Everyone knows what is at stake for both political parties at the conclusion of these by-elections, regardless of where you stand on Samoa’s political spectrum.

So we hope common sense and peace and normalcy remains the order of the day for the duration of the counting period this weekend until the declaration of the new Members-elect on Tuesday.

In fact our political leaders should take the lead in promoting peace and normalcy in the community and refrain from making or issuing public statements, which could either turmoil or lead to the loss of public confidence in our democratic institutions.

We urge the leaders of both the F.A.S.T. and the H.R.P.P. to lead the way in terms of the respect for our democratic systems and processes and maintaining decorum. 

On that note the criticism by the former Prime Minister and H.R.P.P. leader Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi early this week targeting the Supreme Court, after it disqualified the party’s candidate for Falealupo on Monday, is a case in point.

Sadly, the veteran politician has made it a habit of blaming everyone else for his party’s woes in the 2021 General Election, without considering the need for an internal post-election postmortem to find out what went wrong.

Let’s be responsible, let’s be mature and take ownership of our own failures in public office. 

Even the conduct of the six by-elections by the O.E.C. should be of a high standard in line with the democratic principles enshrined in Samoa’s Constitution.

The four-month constitutional crisis that followed the polling in April this year saw the public lose confidence in the independence of the O.E.C. and its ability to conduct a free and fair general election.

But this week’s application in the Supreme Court by the Attorney-General on behalf of the O.E.C. to seek declaratory relief – on how the constitutional quota for women M.P.s should be interpreted after the by-elections are concluded – is a step in the right direction.

The responsibility for the interpretation of the law under Samoa’s Constitution rests with the Supreme Court and we applaud the O.E.C. for taking that path through the application lodged by the Attorney-General.

They say maintaining democracy is hard work and it would sound so familiar to many as this year we came close to losing it during the constitutional crisis. But let us not lose faith and must make an effort to understand and reach out to one another regardless of our political differences.

Nonetheless the nation is only a few days away from concluding the most tumultuous general election in our nation’s history. Let's end it in style with camaraderie all around.

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By The Editorial Board 26 November 2021, 11:49PM
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