Electoral Office awaits Speaker's warrant
The Electoral Commissioner, Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio, has confirmed there will be a by-election for the Gagaifomauga No. 3 constituency if the seat's outgoing occupant issues a written resignation.
Contrary to comments from Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, who said he has asked the Office of the Attorney General for an opinion, Faimalo told the Samoa Observer that a by-election will be called once the Speaker of Parliament issues a warrant.
Talks about the by-election were sparked when La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt verbally resigned from Parliament last week. Speaker Leaupepe has made it clear the resignation must be put in writing.
This week, Prime Tuilaepa said he was unsure if a by-election was still necessary given the fact that Gagaifomauga No. 3 has another Member of Parliament in Faaulusau Rosa Stowers.
But in response to queries from the Samoa Observer, Faimalo confirmed the by-election process is triggered once the Speaker issues the warrant, instructing his office to start preparing the by-election.
As of yesterday, Faimalo said they had not received a warrant.
In an interview with TV3, Tuilaepa explained the matter regarding a by-election for Gagaifomauga No. 3 has been referred to lawyers to review. He said the circumstances are different.
"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," he said.
“[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 then there would have been an automatic by-election.
"But what if it's a male representative?," the Prime Minister asked.
"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 the 2016 General Election, La’auli and Fa’aulusau, were the only candidates for the Gagaifomauga No. 3 seat.