27 Jan 2005

Democracy in Samoa reducing the role of high chiefs - Samoan academic

4:44 pm on 27 January 2005

A Samoan academic says the development of the democratic process has reduced the role of high chiefs.

Dr Asofou So'o from Samoa's National University is speaking on the impact of Samoa's electoral system on democratic developments and the matai system at the University of the South Pacific this afternoon.

He says high ranking chiefs or matai are no longer guaranteed a place in parliament.

Dr So'o says those of lower chiefly rank actively compete with the senior matai.

"The Samoan respect that they were the people in the forefront and be the leaders in their respective communities, but with elections as a strategy or institute of democracy has seen the erosion of that aspect of the matai system, so it is a conflict."

Dr So'o says democracy has also opened up opportunities for women, but male leaders are still favoured.