"Minor" traffic offence disqualifies candidate

A "minor" traffic offence conviction in 2013 has resulted in the rejection of the nomination of one of the seven candidates for the Lefaga and Faleaseela seat.

The Owner of the Kaisara Real Estate, I’a Sa’u Kaisara, of Tafagamanu and Savaia Lefaga, confirmed receiving a notice of rejection on his nomination last week.

Upon filing his Police record with the Office of the Electoral Commission, he was told that he has a conviction which therefore disqualifies him from contesting next year’s General Election. 

I’a said the conviction stemmed from a traffic incident in 2013, where he swirled over the road while driving and crashed into a family’s hedge in Sale'imoa. He assured that no one got hurt in the incident with only the family’s hedge getting ruined upon impact. 

According to I’a, the District Court in 2014 delivered its verdict into his matter where he was convicted and fined $400 tala.

“Who knew that a minor traffic offence would have cost me my candidacy?” said the 49-year-old disqualified candidate.

“I was told that my lawyer [at the time] should have applied for a discharge without conviction but it wasn’t something that was brought up at the time.

“I’m saddened that this doesn’t look good for me and my clients because people now think that I’m some kind of criminal that committed a serious offence.”

I’a, who was to run under the banner of the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.), said he will seek legal advice on his case and the requirement under the electoral law. 

He further indicated that he is likely to go to Court to challenge the decision of the Electoral Commissioner to reject his nomination.

Another candidate, whose nomination was also rejected, is the incumbent M.P. for Aiga ile Tai and the Associate Minister of Finance, Mulipola Leiataua Laki. 

When Mulipola was approached for comment, he said his village is yet to meet to discuss the matter, while emphasising that it is a sensitive issue and he will not be making any public statements.

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