Constituents, leaders celebrate Tuala joining F.A.S.T.
Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio was officially welcomed into the Faatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T) party again on Friday morning in a ceremony featuring party officials and members of his constituency.
The Member of Parliament-elect for Gagaemauga No.1 has been the centre of national attention in the fortnight since the 9 April election.
But questions are now looming over how important his announcement that he would vote to join F.A.S.T. will be to forming the country’s next Government.
But that did nothing to dampen the pride and excitement from his party and constituency supporters at the F.A.S.T. Vaitele headquarters on Friday.
Semau Iafeta, a spokesperson for Gagaemauga No.1, said Tuala’s decision had been the moment that they have been waiting for:
“You can tell by the number of people [who have shown up], they are very excited.
“It’s an important day for us.
“We have humbly accepted the decision he (Tuala) made.
“The moment that our country has been waiting for is for him to decide which party he chooses and for that we have fully [supported his decision and] today is a dream come true.”
“This is what family is for, that and this is our whole family, do not worry Tuala has come to his family and he is a man of many talents that God has blessed him with in supporting our Party, you (Constituency) have come for that we are looked in ways to find out peace for Samoa”
“Thank you for letting Tuala join our party and, for that, we will be working together with him.”
This comes after Tuala, an Independent winning candidate officially declared to join the Faatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T) party on Wednesday morning, after more than a week of post-election deliberations.
Tuala's decision comes after the Samoa Observer revealed the independent candidate had asked Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P) and caretaker Prime Minister Tuiulaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi to stand down as a precondition of the party securing his vote.
But an announcement late on Tuesday night that the Head of State acting on the advice of the Electoral Commission brings into question the significance of Tuala’s announcement.
The Office of the Electoral Commission announced the activation of article 44(1a) of the Constitution, leading to the addition of a new H.R.P.P.-aligned M.P. to the Parliament, leaving the nation in political deadlock despite Tuala's decision.
Tuala’s main opponent in this month's election was former school Principal and businessman, Le- Ati Laufou F. Manase. The Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P) candidate is considering filing a petition against the Member-elect for alleged "bribery and treating". It is a matter about which he is meeting with the caretaker Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi.