Candidate told me to vote for rival: witness

A  voter from Falealili No. 2 constituency has told the Supreme Court the defeated candidate who filed the petition gave him money so he could vote for the rival candidate.

Fuimaono Ualesi Pe’a of Salani Falealili testified in the ongoing post-election petition against the elected Member of Parliament, Fuimaono Samuelu Teo. 

The victorious Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) Member is being challenged by the defeated Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) candidate, Veletaloola Fuimaono Avauli. 

But in alleging bribery by the petitioner, Fuimaono Ualesi told the Court that Veletaloola gave five of his family members including himself $50 tala each on the day before the general election.

He alleged that Veletaloola came to his house in Salani and told him that he and his wife can vote for the H.R.P.P. candidate while two of his children can support the petitioner during the polling.

But his testimony before the Court attracted questions from the bench with Justice Vui Clarence Nelson saying he has never heard of a candidate giving money to voters to support a rival.

In response, Fuimaono said he agrees too and that is what the petitioner believes.

Justice Nelson also highlighted inconsistencies in the witness’ sworn affidavit and his evidence before the Court. 

But in response, Fuimaono told the Court that the inconsistencies in his sworn affidavit was his lawyer’s fault.

Justice Nelson then asked why he had not raised this with the lawyer earlier and corrected it. The witness replied that he reads his sworn affidavit almost every day and was unable to raise the issue with the lawyer earlier. 

He added that this was because the lawyer who did his affidavit was not the same as the law firm that gave him his statement. 

Lawyer Magele Leone Mailo-Sua was recently assigned to represent the elected M.P. for Falealili No. 2 after the previous counsel handed her the files. 

The witness also gave evidence in rebuttal to allegations of bribery against the elected M.P. According to Fuimaono Ualesi, the reason why he went to the Member’s home in Fagalii in March with two other men is to seek money to assist in fa’alavelave or family obligations. 

He denied allegations that he was a committee member for the M.P. and the money given by the M.P. of $200 tala and sack of rice and done to entice the voters.

The witness insisted that the men that he went with wanted money for their family funeral and food to feed an elderly mother. 

Lawyer Leiataualesa Komisi Koria and Fetu Lagaaia are representing the petitioner. 

The hearing continues. 

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