Educator goes to ground over Tuala petition

Le-Ati-Laufou is refusing to comment after launching a legal challenge against the man long known as the "kingmaker" of the 9 April election, Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio.

The Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) candidate is a former school Principal and businessman who contested for the seat of Gagaemauga No.1. and polled 337 votes after the final count.

Tuala, the M.P.-elect for Gagaemauga No.1, contested the election as an independent candidate claimed the seat with 644 votes.

He eventually joined the Faatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party following more than a week of post-election deliberations.

But before his official decision, the Head of State, acting on the advice of the Electoral Commission, announced that an additional seat would be added to Parliament to meet Samoa's minimum quota for female candidates. An H.R.P.P.-aligned M.P. has been appointed to make up the apparent shortfall that brought Samoa to its second deadlock.

In a previous interview with the Samoa Observer, he said he has a fair chance of winning should he proceed with filing a petition against Tuala.

"Why would I even consider that option if I weren't confident? I am relying on God and if I do take that path, He will be there for me.

"I feel confident as I have the right amount of evidence that will prove all the foul plays Tuala made during the election. So, let's all pray to God and see what's next."

Moreover, Le-Ati-Laufou said that he would not have thought of filing a petition if Tuala had approached him or talked to him after the election.

"You know just like what players do after a fight or a rugby game," Le-Ati-Laufou said.

"You see that they play with all their hearts and souls on the field, but no matter what, you would see the two team shaking hands and congratulate the winners after a match.

"So I was hoping for Tuala to come and talk to me after the election and I wouldn't even consider the option of taking him to court.

"But that did not happen, so why not [file a petition]."

Last month, while Le-Ati-Laufou was “considering” filing a petition, he confirmed that the Prime Minister had called him to a meeting.

When he was pressed to comment on whether the Prime Minister is pressuring him to file a petition against Tuala, Le-Ati-Laufou, replied: "I am in a position to file a petition against the winner of this seat," he said.

"If I file a petition, it is my right to do so. And if I do file a petition, it will be because Tuala did not join the H.R.P.P.

"Had he made the right choice and join the party [H.R.P.P.] I wouldn't even consider taking him to court."

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