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Three MPs who resigned to become Independents consent to by-elections

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 19 JULY 2023: The three Members of Parliament who resigned from the Human Rights Protection Party in November 2022 have consented to vacate their Parliamentary seats and return to by-elections.

Supreme Court Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke delivered the decision this morning acknowledging the MPs consent and he congratulated them for reaching an amicable solution to the matter.

The MPs are Ale Vena Ale of Faleata No 4, Tu’u’u Anasi’i Leota of Siumu and Mau’u Siaosi Pu’epu’emai of Vaa -o-Fonoti.

Unhappy with the HRPP leadership after the 2021 general elections, Ale and Tu’u’u were critical of the motive behind the amendment to the Electoral Act 2019 that stops MPs from resigning to become independents.

When they resigned, they wanted to challenge the amendment saying it had breached their constitutional rights as MPs.

When the Speaker, Papalii Li’o Taeu Masipau informed them to vacate their parliamentary seats, the MPs objected and the Speaker took legal action under the Electoral Act 2019 Section 141-Vacation of a Seat of the Legislative Assembly.

Section 2 (a) A seat of a Member becomes vacant if: (a) a Member who becomes a Member according to section 140, and that Member resigns from a political Party to join another political Party during the Parliamentary term.

The MPs lodged a counter motion against the Speaker’s action and the matter was dealt with several times in court before a Judicial Settlement Conference (JSC) was called this month.

The MPs later opted to withdraw their motion and admitted to vacating their seats and to go back to their constituencies for by elections.

3 MPs with lawyer
3 MPs with lawyer

The MPs with their lawyer Muriel Lui after this mornings court decision.

In delivering the decision, Justice Clarke said vacating the MPs seats became effective on the day they admitted to it and the matter has been referred back to the Speaker of Parliament.

Speaking to the media after the decision, Tu’u’u admitted that he really wanted the legal challenge to proceed but later agreed with Ale and Mau’u to put an end to it.

“We agreed to end it and move on as it will take time while we need to focus on the development of our constituencies,” said Mau’u.

For the by elections, Ale said that he has already declared his intention to compete under the FAST Party while Mau’u and Tu’u’u said they have to consult with their constituencies first.

Tu’u’u said he already informed the district of his intention to compete as an Independent.

“But if they want me to remain as an Independent so be it, and if they said FAST or HRPP, it’s their wish,” said Tu’u’u.