Court rules against rejection of candidates

Several candidates who had their election nominations rejected due to the registration of their matai titles and monotaga have been given the green light to run in the upcoming General Election. 

The Court ordered the Electoral Commissioner, Faimalo Mathew Lemisio, to accept the nominations of Su’a Samuelu Su’a (Aleipata Itupa I Lalo), Leumuava Asalemo Tuimauga (Salega no1) and Talalafai Toma Amosa (Fa’asaleleaga No. 2).

In the matter of Su’a Samuelu, Acting Chief Justice, Her Honour Niava Mata Tuatagaloa ruled that the Electoral Commissioner does not have the power to deny the nomination of the candidate.

“We find that the Electoral Commissioner does not have the authority under section 47 sub-section 2 to reject a nomination where a person fails to meet the qualification requirement prescribed by section 8 of the Electoral Act,” she said.

“We are also satisfied that the applicant Su’a Samuelu Su’a satisfies the qualification requirement imposed by section 8 [of the Electoral Act].” 

Justice Tuatagaloa ordered the Electoral Commissioner to accept the nomination of Su’a to include his name in the candidates contesting the Itupa I Lalo constituency. 

Cost of $1500 was  awarded to Su’a against the respondent (Electoral Commissioner). Lawyer Alex Su’a represented the Tautua Samoa party candidate. Su’a was bestowed the matai title in 2016 but had recently registered his title prior to the nomination period last month.

Similarly in the matter of Talalafai Toma Amosa, of Iva Savai’i, the Court was to consider whether he qualifies to run as a candidate.

Talalafai had also claimed that he was bestowed the title for many years but did not register it until he decided to run for election. 

“The Court finds that there is no express power given to the Electoral Commissioner to disqualify a person for failing to meet qualification requirements under section 8(1),” Justice Tuatagaloa concluded. 

“We are satisfied that the applicant satisfies qualification requirements under section 8 of the Electoral Act. The respondent is ordered to accept the nomination of applicant Talalafai Toma Amosa as candidate and include him in the list of candidates for the electoral constituency of Faasalaleleaga no2.”

The Court also ordered costs of $1500 to be awarded to the candidate. He was represented by lawyer Magele Leone Su’a-Mailo. 

Leumuava Asalemo Tuimauga is the third candidate that was disqualified by the Electoral Commissioner under similar circumstances. He filed his nomination to contest in the Salega no1 electoral constituency. 

Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke said the matter concerns the monotaga and registration of the candidate’s matai title. 

He concluded that the Electoral Commissioner’s determination to reject the nomination of Leumuava pursuant to sub section 47 of the Electoral Act is to be set aside. 

Justice Clarke ruled that the applicant satisfies the qualification requirement under the Electoral Act and for his name to be entered in the nomination list for candidates in Salega no1.

Represented by lawyer Ulupale Fuimaono the Court further ordered the Electoral Commissioner to pay $1500 to the applicant. 

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