Further Electoral Act changes on the agenda
In the months leading up to the April election, Members of Parliament will discuss passing further amendments to the electoral process under the Electoral Amendment Bill 2021.
The proposed changes have not been officially unveiled, but will be discussed pre-parliament sitting next Tuesday.
A press statement from the Office of the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly confirmed that the bill is the only legislation on the agenda for next week’s pre-sitting.
The Electoral Commissioner, Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio, is expected to brief the parliamentarians on the proposed changes.
The pre-sitting program affords Government Ministries and State-Owned Enterprises the opportunity to brief M.Ps on bills that are to be introduced for tabling in Parliament.
Parliament will rise on Tuesday next week for the last time and dissolve before the upcoming general election.
The Electoral Act has come under considerable scrutiny during recent electoral petitions challenging candidates’ eligibility to stand for Parliament.
Prior to the petitioning process, the Act underwent several amendments last year in an urgent parliament sitting held in November.
Some of the latest amendments expected to be tackled in the sitting include forcing an M.P. to return to face a by-election if he or she withdraws or resign from their party before the conclusion of a Parliamentary cycle.
The ruling Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) booted out two M.Ps (La’auli Leuatea Schmidt and Faumuina Wayne Fong) from the party with another senior member, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, leaving the party.
Fiame left due to her opposition to three proposed laws to restructure the judiciary.
La’auli was kicked out for voting against changes to the Electoral Act to redefine constituencies.
Faumuina by contrast was sacked by the party for being vocal and publicly disagreeing with several Government developments.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi defended changes to the law saying it was designed to prevent “party hopping” and to therefore maintain the stability of Government.
“If 30 dishonest M.P.s change their party affiliation 20 times during a five-year term, we can have 20 changes of Government in five years creating instability in Government,” he said.
“The H.R.P.P. can never remain the Government forever.
“It can be replaced any time should the people of Samoa so decide, and a successor Government will benefit from the farsighted reforms executed by the H.R.P.P.”