Five women candidates drop out of snap election race

A total of five women candidates have dropped out of the May 21 snap election which the Head of State announced last Tuesday.

Their exit brings the total number of women candidates hoping for a second chance to win votes through the snap election to 15, excluding Lotofaga’s Fiame Naomi Mataafa who is unopposed.

The Office of the Electoral Commission released the official list of confirmed candidates as well as candidate withdrawals last Friday.

The five female candidates who have confirmed their withdrawals include: Pouli Taialofa Naseri of Aiga I le Tai, Upuolevavau Agnes Togialeoli-Ugapo of Anoama’a No. 1, Manuta Lavamaile Uesile of Gagaifomauga No. 2, Maee Ualesi Silva of Salega No. 2 and Laulu Ianeta Chan Tung of Palauli No. 3.

Four of them ran under the banner of the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) in the April 9 general election. 

And out of 42 candidates who withdrew their nominations last Friday, some 39 of them ran under the H.R.P.P. banner to top the list as the party with the highest number of candidates to have dropped out of the May election.

Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party did not withdraw any candidates.

This brings the number of H.R.P.P. running candidates to 67 compared to 106 candidates that they initially fielded in last month’s general election.

After the April 9 general election the H.R.P.P. lost more than 20 seats which it previously held during the XVI Parliamentary term of 2016-2021 and managed to secure only 26 seats including the additional woman member after final results.

The F.A.S.T. party's strategy differed and opted for at least one candidate for most of the constituencies that they were contesting with the exception of fewer than five constituencies that had two candidates.

With 106 candidates the H.R.P.P. won 46,640 votes across the country but with a seat-winning success rate of 23.58 per cent. On average their candidates won 440 votes to F.A.S.T. party's candidate average of 608.

The H.R.P.P. appear to seek to better their success rate by reducing the number of candidates they are endorsing in each constituency for the upcoming election.

With the exception of three constituencies (Faleata No. 1, Lefaga ma Faleaseela and Safata No. 2) where they are fielding three candidates each and their secured seats (Faasaleleaga No. 5, Satupaitea and Aleipata Itupa I Luga, Vaimauga No. 1), the 40-year-old political party now has only two candidates per constituency.

The confirmed list revealed that the former Associate Minister Peseta Vaifou Tevagaena will run unopposed for the Fa’asaleleaga No. 5 seat ahead of the May election.

Peseta's guaranteed passage to the Parliament follows the withdrawal of two other H.R.P.P. candidates: Matafeo Reupena Matafeo and Vui Laniselota Lameko.

He joins three other candidates who also ran unopposed in the April general election.

They are caretaker Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, the former Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, and the former Associate Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi.

Under the authority of the Head of State, His Highness Tuimaleali’ifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II, the Office of the Electoral Commission also issued a notice advising of one day pre-polling instead of four on Wednesday 19 May, which is two days before election proper Friday 21 May.

The Head of State will have until Friday 4 June to declare the results of the election.

However, the Head of State’s revocation of last month's election and declaration of the 21 May election is being challenged in the Supreme court by the F.A.S.T. party and went for mention last Friday. 

The basis for the court proceeding is the claim that the order breaches the law and the Constitution.

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