And still … Leala returns
The last of the six petitions before the Supreme Court was withdrawn yesterday.
Brought by Ale Vena against his rival, Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi, the petition questioned the qualification of more than 400 voters in Faleata West.
Yesterday, Ale, a former Member of Parliament asked for the petition to be withdrawn.
In doing so, it means the Associate Minister of Communications and Information Technology will serve out the rest of his five years in Parliament.
The petitioner’s lawyer, Maiava Visekota Peteru, advised the Court about her client’s decision to withdraw the petition.
Neither Sarona Ponifasio who is representing Lealailepule nor Muriel Lui who is representing the Electoral Office objected.
Justice Vui Clarence Nelson accepted the application. He ordered a notice of withdrawal be published in today’s Samoa Observer. The matter will be recalled after 14 days of publication on 5th May for a formal withdrawal to take place in Court.
Justice Vui also noted that there was no objection from the respondents and counter allegations against the petitioner were also withdrawn.
“These matters are never easy,” Justice Vui told the Court filled with constituents from Faleata West.
“The Court does not take these matters lightly and the Court will also advise the government to look into the legislation in the matters raised on how to deal with it.
“It doesn’t mean that the petition was of no use but it is very useful in moving forward for general elections.”
In response, Ale thanked the Court for considering his argument and taking it into account.
Outside Court, the former M.P for Faleata West said after the hearing on Tuesday he saw that his argument was not in line with what was defined in the legislation.
“It appears that amendments are needed in the legislation to enable only the descendants of Faleata West to elect their own M.P,” Ale explained.
“I felt it was no use to argue the case when it’s not in the same interpretation of the law.
I decided it was best to withdraw it and make submissions before parliament just like what the Judge says to advise them on the legislation.”
Ale added Leala has gotten away this time but he will catch him again.
On the other hand, Leala thanked God for the outcome of the case.
The Associate Minister said he forgives Ale and claiming that there were people behind him pushing for the petition.
“Now we all know that Leala and his committee did not do anything wrong during the election,” said Leala.
“Ale’s argument is valid and it calls for what I had always been urging in Parliament to allow another additional seat for Faleata West considering its increasing electoral roll...but I’m still the champion.”
Leala also suggested for Prime Minister and government to reconsider petitions after elections saying there must be a better way of going through it.
He acknowledged his constituency for their support.
In his evidence on Tuesday, Ale told the Court that people who are not “direct descendants” of Faleata, should not have the right to elect an M.P. for the constituency.
“I believe that a person who is a resident of Vaitele should have a connection (piitaga) to Faleata,” said Ale.
“If not, there is an urban seat to register in rather than voting for our constituency where they have no blood relationship. Kinship as I interpret it as an heir (suli).
“In my own belief everyone that resides in Vaitele and other parts of Faleata who has no blood relationship or is a direct descendant, should register in an urban area.”