P.M. to face two opponents
The Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, will face two opponents in the contest for the seat of Lepa at the 2021 election, it was revealed on Friday.
Tuilaepa first entered Parliament as a member for Lepa in 1980, after winning a by-election caused by the death of the seat's previous member, and represented it for an uninterrupted period over four decades.
But to retain the seat next year, he will have to fend off two challengers it was revealed when the full list of candidates was released on Friday by the Office of the Electoral Commission. Both Faletagaoa’i Tausaga and Tu'ula Kiliri Tuitui will also contest the seat alongside the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister won the seat unopposed in 2011 after another attempt to stand for Lepa by Tu’ula, who is affiliated with the Tautua Samoa Party, was disqualified because he had failed to meet the village service (or monotaga) requirement.
That was the second time Tu’ula was disqualified for not meeting the monotaga requirement.
The Samoa Observer contacted Tu’ula for comment; but he refused to be interviewed unless the Samoa Observer ran a photo of him on the front page alongside his comments.
“What I want is for my photo to be on the front page, full-page that is,” he said.
Tu’ula was told that his demands were declined.
“Well then, that is what I want, my photo is blasted full page along with my comments, only then I will entertain questions,” he said.
Attempts to contact the Prime Minister’s other opponent were not successful on Friday.
The Prime Minister himself signed up for next April’s general election as a Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) nominee on Monday at the Office of the Electoral Commission at the S.N.P.F. Plaza.
He was accompanied by two Lepa chiefs, Auelua Samuelu Enari and Tuilaepa Eti Fa’aolotoi.
The 75-year-old Tuilaepa is among the world’s longest-serving Prime Ministers, having occupied the position for more than 20 years since he took over from the late Tofilau Dr. Eti Alesana in 1998.
Tuilaepa was first elected to Parliament in 1979 as an independent, before the formation of the H.R.P.P. - Samoa’s first political party.
Married to Gillian Meredith, with whom they have eight children, the staunch Catholic was born in Lepa, Aleipata and raised through the Catholic education system.
He was educated at Marist Brothers School, St Joseph’s College, Lotopa before continuing his education at St Paul’s College in Auckland, New Zealand.
Tu’ula was found not guilty of making a false declaration that he performed monotaga for at least three years from the day of his nomination for the previous election in 2016.
He had pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges brought by the Office of the Electoral Commissioner.
District Court Judge, Fepuleai Ameperosa Roma concluded that the prosecution had not proved the charge to the required standard and dismissed the case in less than a minute.
Tu’ula was also banished from Saleapaga for three years.
But the Land and Titles Court in July dismissed the decision from the village council to banish the family.
The court accepted that the banishment of Tu'ula and his descendants was not in accordance with customs and traditions as well as requirements under the Village Fono Act 2017.
The Court stated that the descendants of Tu'ula were not given the right to respond to allegations made by the Village Council when they ousted the family.
It is not known how his period of banishment will affect his ability to qualify the monotaga requirement for office.