Man taking on P.M. wary of obstacles

A man, who has tried for many years to run in the General Election, against Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi at Lepa, is getting closer to realising his dream.

But Tu’ula Kiliri Tuitui, who is attempting to run in next year's General Election for the third time, remains very cautious. Although his name is already on the candidates list from the Office of the Electoral Commission, he is bracing himself for one more hurdle to overcome with the possibility of a legal challenge against his candidacy. 

Tu’ula was unsuccessful in two previous elections. He was denied being a candidate against Tuilaepa for not meeting the threshold requirement for rendering monotaga. 

This time around, he said he has heard speculations that his candidacy could be challenged again.

“My registration has gone through so I don’t know why else it would be challenged?” he asked.

Tu’ula believes that the seats in Parliament should be contested by anyone and each citizen should be given the right to run for office. 

The impact of 2009 tsunami on his village of Saleapaga is among his chief concerns, saying there are a lot of developments that need to be done.

He also revealed that in the past, he had an agreement with his mother not to contest the seat in previous terms in respect of Tuilaepa. 

“My agreement with my mother then is that after that election she will not try to stop me from running,” he said. 

“And that is how it has been since and why I keep trying. The election is open for anyone to contest the seat but the constituency’s meeting made the decision [to support Tuilaepa] without asking other candidates…”  

Running under the Tautua Samoa Party banner, Tu’ula said that is the reason why he reached out to his village council to ask for their approval for his to run. 

He added that his request was finally approved to open the door to him and those that want to run in the election. 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa had recently welcomed the challenge from his opponent when asked about his contenders. 

In the previous years, 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 at the time.

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 this year 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.

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