Village Council stands by decision

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia - Ah Tong, 24 April 2019

The Mayor of Tuasivi and Fogapoa village, Namulau’ulu Sefo Taliva’a, has defended their decision to banish a candidate who flew the Samoa First Political Party flag during the recent Fa’asaleleaga No. 2 by-election

Lema’i Faioso Sione was banished by the Village Council last Monday for disobeying a village decision to support the winning candidate, Namulauulu Sami Leota, who represented the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.).

During an interview with the Samoa Observer, Namulau’ulu Sefo said Lema’i ignored the Village Council’s decision.

What’s more, he said the candidate did not inform the Council about his intention to run in the by-election.

“He is free to exercise his right to run in the election,” Namulauulu Sefo said.

“But the reason why he has been banished is because he was aware of the Council’s decision to support Namulau’ulu Sami and he too agreed to it.

“Despite the fact that he was aware of the Village Council’s decision, he went ahead and ran in the election but did not inform the village of his intention to make it official.

“That said, this village does not oppress him from running but that was the issue.”

Namulau’ulu also confirmed that the Village Council received and rejected a letter from lawyer and Samoa First Political Party leader, Unasa Iuni Sapolu, requesting Tuasivi and Fogapoa to reconsider their decision.

Contacted for a comment, Unasa confirmed writing to the Village Council, asking them to reconsider their decision to banish Lema’i.

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Unasa said the decision to “oppress” the candidate from running is “unconstitutional” and a “breach of natural justice.”

But Namulauulu Sefo disagrees.

The Mayor said that while Lema’i can exercise his rights under the Constitution, the Village Council is also exercising its power to “banish those who disobey village decisions.”

He said the candidate Fogapoa and Tuasivi had opted to support was Namulauulu Sami Leota and all villagers were aware about it.

Further, the Village mayor pointed out that the candidate had a chance to make things right when he was fined 100 sows, which is the equivalent of $5,000.

He said the Council would have been happy to receive anything Lema’i could have come up with.

But instead of paying the fine, Namulauulu Sefo said Lema’i went home and “did not seem to care about the Village Council’s decision.”

Lema’i refuted the claim by the Village Mayor.

He said he did not pay the fine because he felt the decision to punish him for exercising his rights was “unjust.”

He added that he was not aware of the Council's decision to support Namulau’ulu Sami Leota.

“I was exercising my own right as an individual to run as a candidate,” Lema’i said. “I do not agree with the decision by the village council.

“We also have rights. We cannot deny that there are other groups of people that do not share the same value and perspective as the Government, and like us, our fight is for our customary land and land issues.”

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia - Ah Tong, 24 April 2019

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