Policeman removed after political interference complaint
A Police officer posted to the Utuali’i polling booth was removed on Wednesday after allegedly interfering with the political process by asking after and then criticising a voter's choice of candidate.
The voter, a caregiver to her elderly parents, confirmed with the Samoa Observer that she had lodged a complaint with the Afega Police station last night.
The woman, who declined to be named but resides in Utuali’i, was at the local E.F.K.S. Hall with her parents on Wednesday morning when the incident occurred.
“I have already lodged a complaint with police about what happened but I’m sorry I cannot comment further,” she told the Samoa Observer.
But a polling official stationed at the same polling booth on the same day said the Police Officer allegedly asked the woman who she was voting for.
The official alleged that once the woman explained who she was voting for, the Police officer allegedly told her that she should have supported a different candidate.
“Once we were made aware of the incident the Police officer was removed and another police officer was brought in to replace him,” said the scrutineer.
A Fa’atuatua ile Atua ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) candidate from the Sagaga No. 4 constituency, Tagaloatele Poloa raised concerns about the incident.
He said he has also lodged a complaint with the Office of the Electoral Commission and Police regarding the case.
“This shouldn’t happen and it’s influencing the voters that are supposed to cast their votes in secrecy,” he said.
“The officer probably didn’t get enough training of where he should be standing and not.
"They are not supposed to be near the voters when they vote. That is bogus…my concern [is] about this happening on [election day on] Friday and how many other voters might have gone through something similar with this officer.”