No new candidates for second poll

There will be no new candidates allowed to nominate for the 21 May snap election officially called on Tuesday night.

Critics, such as Faatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party leader Fiame Naomi Mataafa, are also questioning whether a national poll can be held to meet such a deadline. 

According to the writ for the second election issued and signed by the Head of State His Highness Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II, the last day on which a candidate may withdraw their nomination is noon on Friday 7 May.

It means any one of the nearly 200 candidates who contested in the General Election may take themselves out of the running but no one new may enter the race. 

On Tuesday night, the Head of State announced in a live broadcast from his home in Vailele that he is revoking the results of the General Election and is sending Samoa back to the polls. 

He said the political discourse in the country in the weeks following polling day has “done little to assist matters” regarding the Parliamentary deadlock between the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) and F.A.S.T. 

“Political leaders and supporters on both sides have laid serious accusations against the impartiality of the Court, lessening the appearance of that arm to discharge its constitutional and common law functions to interpret and apply our laws,” he said.

“Whatever the outcome of the petitions, the decisions of the Courts will be questioned and viewed through that prism.”

Under the authority of the Head of State, the Office of the Electoral Commission also issued a notice laying out one day for pre-polling instead of four, on Wednesday 19 May, two days before polling day.

The Head of State will have until Friday 04 June, two weeks later, to declare the results of the election.

On Tuesday night, caretaker Prime Minister and leader of H.R.P.P. Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi threw his support behind the decision, calling it a fresh opportunity for the country to have its say and warned people not to misuse their votes this time around.

But Fiame said the new election should not have been called, and that a new election cannot be conducted in the manner or timeframe given by the Head of State.

“It can’t be done in two weeks,” she told the Samoa Observer on Wednesday.

“They are going to run it like a re-run of the last one, can you believe that?  Just saying this is your second chance to vote for these same people. 

“They are just throwing everything in to mix it up, but the end of the story is, Tuilaepa does not want to step out of power, he is denying the people the right to make that decision, he is treating it like it is his entitlement and he should be there forever, God forbid.

“Leaders come and go by the will of the people, not by some official acting on unlawful premises.”

Meanwhile, F.A.S.T. is mounting a legal challenge against the call to hold another election.

The party says that the Head of State does not have the legal or constitutional power to call a fresh election until the first time the new Parliament sits.

They also argue that the decision to revoke the election results was made too hastily, with important legal matters still before the courts.

In his address on Monday, Tuimalealiifano said among his reasons to void the election results is the hung Parliament situation the country faces.

F.A.S.T. is arguing that the deadlock is due to be resolved in court by a panel of judges tasked to decide on whether adding a 52nd Member of Parliament was lawful.

Electoral Commissioner Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. 

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