Court to hear counter-petition
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a counter petition mounted by the elected Member of Parliament for Falelatai and Samatau, Lupematasila Tologata Tile, lodged against his unsuccessful political rival.
Justice Fepuleai Ameperosa Roma, sitting with Justice Lesatele Rapi Vaai, granted leave to allow Lupematasila to file his counter petition outside of time on Wednesday morning.
His counter suit is in response to a petition filed by the unsuccessful Fa’atuatua ile Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) candidate for Falelatai and Samatau, Pau Roy Ausage.
Lupematasila alleges his rival engaged in bribery and also that a F.A.S.T. roadshow in Mulifanua prior to polling day broke electoral regulations.
Pau alleges three allegations of bribery and treating from Lupematasila leading up to the national election.
Lawyer Aumua Ming Leung Wai represented the former General Manager of the Electric Power Corporation, Lupematasila, while Muriel Lui acted for Pau.
Aumua had filed an application before the Supreme Court seeking leave to grant the publication of his client’s counter petition outside of the required timeframe.
Ms. Lui did not oppose this application which was consequently granted by Justice Roma. Counter petitions filed outside the allowable time frames specified by the courts are considered on a case by case basis.
The hearing for the electoral challenges is scheduled to be heard on Friday this week and the Court also informed the lawyers to be prepared to sit on Saturday should it be required.
Leading up to the election initially three candidates registered to contest the Falelatai and Samatau seat including former Associate Minister and H.R.P.P. member, Taefu Lemi Taefu.
The final election results recorded Lupematasila securing 1008 votes, 851 for Pau and Taefu collecting 346 ballots.
Taefu withdrew his nomination following the announcement of a snap election that did not proceed after the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional.
Lupematasila resigned as the General Manager of E.P.C. to run for parliament last year after 38 years of working in the corporation.
He previously told the Samoa Observer that his decision to join the incumbent H.R.P.P. was due to his district being loyal supporters of the ruling party and its record of service to the country.
Pau was previously the Acting Director of the Department of Youth and Women Affairs in American Samoa.
He was able to contest in the recent election under amendments to the Electoral Act 2019 to accommodate difficulties faced by candidates due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.