Candidate fights election rejection
An aspiring politician, Paloa Louis Stowers, is standing by allegations that the Village Mayor of Vaitele unjustly refused to sign documents to allow him to contest next year's General Election.
Paloa contends that his village mayor refused to sign a statutory declaration that he had fulfilled monotaga (service) requirements required for him to stand for Parliament.
The 66-year-old Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) candidate alleges the mayor’s refusal led to the decision by the Office of the Electoral Commissioner to reject his candidacy.
Paloa is one of several candidates from the political party who alleged to have encountered problems with their nomination due to the same issue. Paloa is represented in Court by lawyer, Mauga Precious Chang.
The matter was heard before Supreme Court Justice Vui Clarence Nelson and Justice Tologata Leilani Tuala-Warren on Monday.
Elemesi Schmidt was acting for the Office of the Electoral Commissioner as the first respondent in the case.
Fepuleai Patrick Fepuleai is standing for the mayor; Toi Sakaria Taituave, the second respondent.
Paloa was the first witness called on the stand where he verified two affidavits before Court attesting that he had satisfied the monotaga requirement from 1999 to this day.
But for the matter at hand, only the years between 2017 and 2019 are being questioned.
The Court heard that in Paloa’s efforts to get a signature from the village mayor, Toi refused to sign it and allegedly said “look for someone else to sign your paper.”
During the proceedings, Justice Nelson asked the first respondents if they wished to cross examine Paloa. They answered no.
Justice Nelson then questioned the Electoral Commissioner’s lawyer about their position on the matter given they did not wish to cross examine the applicant who was adamant he had rendered monotaga.
Justice Nelson put it to Mr. Schmidt that having no questions for the witness could be taken to mean that they conceded that Paloa had indeed rendered his monotaga.
At that point, the lawyer began to question Paloa. Under cross-examination, Paloa strongly disputed claims made in opposing affidavits that he does not attend village council meetings.
While Paloa admitted to missing “some” meetings due to unforeseen circumstances, his understanding of the terms of monotaga required in Vaitele did not oblige him to attend every meeting.
This view was supported by another witness who was called to the stand on Monday by lawyer, Mauga.
The former village mayor of Vaitele from 2007 to 2019, Tauolo Inuvaisisi Grey, testified that Paloa had been serving the village since he became a chief in 1999.
Tauolo outlined in his affidavit monotaga worthy contributions by Paloa ranging from funerals to village fundraising activities years 2017 to 2019, including the village’s collective effort for the XVI Pacific Games Samoa played host to last year.
The hearing continues.