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Senior HRPP MP calls for Tuilaepa to move aside

Thursday 2 December 2021 | Written by RNZ | Published in Regional, Samoa

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Senior HRPP MP calls for Tuilaepa to move aside
Samoa's Minister for Sport and Chair of the 2019 Pacific Games Organising Committee, Loau Keneti Sio. Photo: Vinnie Wylie

A former Cabinet Minister in Samoa has called on former prime minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and other opposition party leaders to "hang up their boxing gloves", following the HRPP's crushing electoral defeats.

The former Minister for Education Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, told the Samoa Observer April's election result and recent by-elections speak volumes and "the buck stops with the leaders".

The Human Rights Protection Party lost the election by one seat and has since lost four of six by-elections.

Loau said the party has to be honest with itself and the country and admit that the only option is for the party leaders to move on.

"Change is not a bad thing," said Loau. "We have to be honest with ourselves, the party, supporters and the country that if you were unsuccessful [in leadership] the right thing to do is to hang your boxing gloves."

He told the Observer in other democratic countries the party leader steps down if they fail to win a general election.

"I guess the caucus will also have to consider that after settling down with the aftermath of the by-elections," he said.

"We only had one caucus meeting [after by-elections] where the financial situation was discussed but the agenda did not include change of leadership.

"But I think it's something that needs to be discussed and brought forth in the agenda items.

"Talking over matters is not a bad thing - it creates thoughts and negotiations on changes where it should head… with all that the buck stops with the leader."

The Observer said several other senior MPs and party-members, who declined to be named, agreed that the leadership of the party needs to be reconsidered. There were members who disagreed with the proposition for a change in leadership, saying that the party would collapse if there was a change.

Samoa's Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mataafa and the leader of the HRPP Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi

Samoa's Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mataafa and the leader of the HRPP Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi Photo: Parliament of Samoa

Party has 'accepted defeat'

A senior MP and former Cabinet Minister, Tapunuu Niko Lee Hang, told the newspaper the party has accepted defeat and will honour the decision from the country.

"If this is the wish of the country to change Government we accept their prayers," said Tapunuu.

"Most of those in Government are new and they need our advice but we have also accepted where we are.

"We do plan to discuss a winning strategy because we mistakenly believed that we will remain on the top but it was our mistake that we took it for granted.

"We never knew how strong the new Government's strategy was when they prepared their campaign."

Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi was Samoa's longest-serving Prime Minister, ruling from 1998 until this year. He has been an MP since 1981.