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La'auli continues fight for natural justice

Former Speaker of Parliament, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao, is taking his fight for natural justice outside of Samoa. 

The senior Member of Parliament for Gagaifomauga No. 3, who was forced to resign from the ruling Human Rights Protection Party, said his lawyer is writing to international Parliamentary bodies to assist in what he claims as mistreatment by the party leader and Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi.

During an interview with the Samoa Observer, La’auli said his lawyer is preparing a letter for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, International Parliamentary Union, and the UN Human Rights Parliamentary. 

La'auli said he would also lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman's Office, which serves as Samoa's National Human Rights Institution.

“All I want is a fair trial and natural justice,” La’auli said about his removal from the H.R.P.P.

“I’m not doing this because I want to go back to the H.R.P.P. I want to know why I am penalised for standing up for the rights of my constituency and yet the party is to protect the rights of the people.”

The latest political development from the former Speaker’s follows an ongoing rift with the leader of H.R.P.P. who is the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi.

La’auli clarified that he did not resign from the ruling party as reported earlier but insisted he has “step aside” to oblige with the appeal from his constituency to leave the party. 

Furthermore, he said he has reached out to international bodies because he can no longer trust the local system saying its “under one-party state, one-party system controlled by one man”. 

“We no longer have any independence in our country and even in Parliament,” he said.

“What I’m after is where is the justice in removing me for protecting the rights of my own constituency. How is that natural justice?” 

 Earlier this week, Prime Minister Tuilaepa said the decision from La’auli to resign from the party is the right thing to do. 

 He made it clear the H.R.P.P. did not sack La’auli.

“If you came through the election as a member of the H.RP.P, once you reject the H.R.P.P. policies, it means you have sacked yourself,” Tuilaepa said. 

“What happened in this (La’auli’s) case is that he wasn’t sacked by the H.R.P.P., he sacked himself when he violated our agreements.”

Tuilaepa was referring to an incident in Parliament in 2019 when La’auli voted against the Constitutional Amendment Bill, which redefined the electoral boundaries for constituencies in Samoa.

 Tuilaepa insisted that every member of the H.R.P.P. is aware of this – including La’auli

 “When matters pertaining to the Constitution are raised where amendments are needed, no one is allowed to (vote against the party’s position). This is where this agreement comes into play,” Tuilaepa explained.  

“It’s quite clear in the agreement that when you enter the party, you will support the party and do what the party wants and that you will not embarrass the political party.

“This is why the H.R.P.P. is strong because of its unity.”

But La’auli has disputed the claims from Tuilaepa saying his leadership is inconsistent with other developments in parliament. 

He also criticised the Prime Minister for changing his position about his situation where he initially said I resigned and is now claiming that I sacked himself. 

In other reports Tuilaepa claimed that La’auli was sacked by the H.R.P.P. executive for his opposition relating to Constitutional amendments. 

But La’auli said there was no decision from the caucus to sack him and there are no records to support it.

The only letter he received, said the M.P., is that he has accepted his resignation. 

“I didn’t resign, he’s playing around with this,” he said.  

On the issue of voting against Constitutional changes, La’auli said that is not the case for other issues pertaining to Constitution where other M.Ps voted against it. 

He said the matter concerning the recommendation to remove the President of the Land and Titles Court touched on the Constitution and was opened for conscious vote. 

In contrast with the electoral changes that he voted against, La’auli said similarly the Prime Minister didn’t ask that it was a party vote. 

He said these are some of the inconsistencies in the decisions from the Prime Minister and the justification that he was removed because of voting against the Constitution amendment is incorrect. 

A request was made through the Press Secretary, Nanai Lave Tuiletufuga for a comment from the Prime Minister on the matters raised by La’auli. 

There was no response by press time. 

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