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-Members of the Samoa ruling Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) will have to vote for a new Deputy Party Leader, who could become the next Deputy Prime Minister.
And it could be any Member of Parliament from the ruling party with the vote expected to take place before Parliament reconvenes next Tuesday.
This was confirmed by HRPP Whip and Member of Parliament for Anoama’a East, Alai’asa Sepulona Moananu, who said the “old rule” of party members appointing a deputy leader has not changed.
“The party’s bylaw has not changed, members have to vote [for a deputy leader],” said Alai’asa.
He added that the discussion of amending the bylaw to allow the leader of the party who is Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi to appoint his deputy has not been made effective.
“Those were discussions and thoughts at the time but it hasn’t been formalised,” he said.
The development follows the decision by former Deputy Prime Minister and deputy leader, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa, to resign from Cabinet last Friday.
Mata'afa was elected by the ruling party in a vote after the 2016 General Election appointing her as the Deputy Leader and also became the Deputy Prime Minister.
Mata'afa, who was also the Minister for Natural Resources and Environment, also resigned from her ministerial position. Her decision reaffirms her position to oppose three controversial bills that propose to reshape the judiciary and establish an independent Land and Titles Court.
But the decision from the veteran MP for Lotofaga to step down from Cabinet has left her Cabinet colleagues with very little to say.
Asked for a comment, Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, said he does not ask questions about the latest political development.
“I mind my own business,” said Loau.
The Minister of Public Enterprises, Lautafi Selafi Purcell, did not have much to say either.
“That is her choice and that is politics,” he added.
Another long-serving Member of Parliament and Minister of Works Transport and Infrastructure, Papalii Niko Lee Hang said he does not have any comment to make about Mata'afa’s exit.
The former Deputy Prime Minister was up against former Cabinet Minister and MP for Palauli Falefa, Faumuina Tiatia Liuga in a caucus vote for the deputy leader position.
Mata'afa managed to edge out Faumuina with a 21-19 in favour of the first deputy Prime Minister for the country.
Those bylaws where the party members also vote in who can be the deputy leader was under review by a caucus Committee sometimes in July.
At the time, Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said the amendment was one of the key changes under review that gives the party leader the power to choose the deputy leader.
Tuilaepa said the change was planned to be discussed in December when the party revisits its bylaws.
These proposed changes cater to better the [HRPP] especially because of the issues we are facing," he said.
“You've got to keep in mind that the logic behind amending laws follow issues that arise. And then we have to amend the law to better suit the situation and to assure these predicaments do not reoccur.
“Similarly, in accordance with our Constitution, they are amended to address current issues.”
He did not go into details about the issues he was referring to.
Tuilaepa said changes to laws are necessary to suit the developments and times.
SOURCE: SAMOA OBSERVER/PACNEWS
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