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Electoral Amendment Bill: Samoa will not be governed by outsiders

Friday 8 March 2024 | Written by RNZ | Published in Regional, Samoa


Electoral Amendment Bill: Samoa will not be governed by outsiders
La'auli Leuatea Schmidt in Parliament this week. 5 March 2024 Photo: Facebook/Parliament of Samoa/24030704

Samoa’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries La'auli Leuatea Schmidt says the country would not be ruled by outsiders, should a change to the electoral act go through.

This week, the ruling Faatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) party tabled the Electoral Amendment Bill 2024 in Parliament under the certificate of urgency.

The opposition, Human Rights Protection Party, is concerned that the local population eligible to vote was outnumbered by the Samoan diaspora, according to a report by the Samoa Observer.

On Wednesday, MP for Sagaga No.2, Maulolo Tavita Amosa, referred to statistics of 182,000 Samoans living in New Zealand, with 107,000 of those eligible to vote in Samoa.

He noted about 130,000 eligible voters were registered for the 2021 general election, and said the proposed inclusion of those overseas is a worry.

"What will become of our parliament and who will they listen to," Maulolo was quoted by the newspaper.

MP for Safata No.1, Leaana Ronnie Posini, said he welcomed changes to allow Samoan citizens living abroad to cast their votes.

However, his main concern was the different generations of citizens and allowing those that are not full-blooded Samoans and never resided in Samoa to decide on national elections.

La'auli said the parliament will not be ruled by outsiders as suggested and it will not go back to colonial times when it was governed by outsiders.

However, opposition leader Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi told La'auli that he is only confusing people when he is not the responsible minister.

He took issue with the Government for not tabling all the amendments at once but feeding them in stages.

Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata'afa has said the electoral changes could not be delayed because the old system no longer worked.

The debate on the bill continued yesterday.