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By-election uncertain: P.M.

It is uncertain if a by-election will follow the resignation of Gagaeifomauga No. 3 Member of Parliament, La'aulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt, and the matter is now under legal review, the Prime Minister says.

The Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, said the matter has been referred for lawyers to review, pointing out that circumstances are "different" to those expected. 

"Because under the current law, the initial number [of Members of Parliament prescribed in the Parliament] is 49 representatives, only 49 [are mandated to sit] under the Constitution," Tuilaepa said during his weekly programme on TV3 on Wednesday.

“[The number of representatives] changed only when there were not enough women: [a guaranteed number of seats if] five in total. 

“If there are not enough women, then we bring in another through the General Elections, [that is] the reason why there are 50."

Tuilaepa said if a woman had resigned, for example, M.P. Faaulusau Rosa Duffy-Stowers, then there would have been an automatic by-election.

Faaulusau is also a Member of Parliament for Gagaeifomauga No. 3.

"But what if it's a male representative?," the Prime Minister posed the question.

"That's why the lawyers have to look into it, and if there isn't a clause for this and a by-election happens, then this is one amendment that needs to be done.

"Because right now there are five [women in Parliament] and the number has fallen right to the actual number of seats [required] in Parliament: 49."

In 2013 the Electoral Act was amended to guarantee women 10 per cent of seats in Parliament; if fewer than five were elected, the amended law said, up to five additional seats would be established for women M.P.s. 

The decision by former Cabinet Minister, La’auli to resign from Parliament came as a surprise, said the Prime Minister.

Tuilaepa also apologised to La'auli, saying the events in the Parliamentary chambers that preceded his resignation were not planned.

"It was just a demonstration of heated determination [between M.P.s], I know La'auli's determination is for the truth only to be brought in - and so is mine," he said.

On Tuesday, Parliament accepted the Privilege and Ethics Committee report which found Gagaifomauga No. 3, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt, guilty of contempt of Parliament.

But instead of endorsing a recommendation by the Committee to suspend La'auli without pay for three months, the Chamber resolved to formally warn the Member of Parliament. 

But before that decision was announced, La'auli had already announced his resignation and left the building. 

The Speaker of Parliament, Leaupepe Tole'afoa Fa'afisi, then said he would ask La'auli to submit an official resignation letter. 

Whether or not the Speaker has received a resignation letter from Laauli, is not yet known. 

The Parliamentary Privilege and Ethics Committee found La’auli guilty of misleading Chamber over remarks he made which were critical of a $300,000 generator for the Tanumalala Prison. 

The Committee found that remarks La'auli made about purchasing his own, similarly-charged generator for cheaper were inaccurate.

La'auli said that his intentions were good when he raised questions about the cost of a generator that led to an investigation against him.

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