MPs in Samoa change minds over petition withdrawal

Two election petitions due to be withdrawn in the Supreme Court in Apia yesterday will now still be heard after the parties involved failed to agree on some issues.

The petition by Lolomatauama Eseta Mataituli against the election winner for Aana Alofi 2 constituency, Aiono Afaese Toleafoa, has been rescheduled for hearing today after Aiono changed his mind.

He told the Court yesterday that there have been changes to the original agreement with Lolomatauama and he is now prepared to pursue the matter in court.

He said that he had agreed to resign the seat as well as sit out the ensuing by-election but Lolomatauama now wants him never to contest any more future elections for the constituency seat.

Aiono has also been given time to find a lawyer to replace his original legal representative.

In another petition hearing yesterday for Sagaga 4 constituency, petitioner Tagaloatele Poloa said that they have not reached a firm agreement and he wants to proceed with the hearing.

The Court had accepted on Monday the withdrawal of the petition against winner Tuisa Tasi Patea of the Human Rights Protection Party by FAST candidate Tagaloatele.

Patea also agreed to resign the seat and sit out the by-election and he told the Court yesterday they were ready to honour the agreement.

But the petitioner, through his lawyer, told the Court they had not reached an agreement and they now want to proceed with the hearing.

The court has now set 26 July for hearing that matter.

Meanwhile Samoa's caretaker Minister for Works, Transport and Infrastucture, Tapunu'u Papalii Niko Lee Hang has become only the third minister from the previous government to retain his seat.

An election petition against him by the FAST party candidate, Ve'atauia Faatasi Puleiata. was withdrawn yesterday.