18 Nov 2005

Samoa opposition wants PM to step down over doctors' resignation

4:34 pm on 18 November 2005

The opposition in Samoa says the prime minister may have been a father figure to the country but he is being arrogant and cold and it is time for him to step down.

The opposition leader, Le Mamea Ropati, has used his weekly media conference to call for an early election over the en masse resignation of 27 hospital doctors.

They had been on strike for nine weeks over pay and conditions and when the prime minister, Tuilaepa Sailele, told them to go back to work or face dismissal, they quit.

The opposition deputy leader, Asiata Dr Saleimoa Vaai, says the doctors' claim, particularly for entry level salaries, amounts to "peanuts".

He says Tuilaepa has mishandled the whole situation.

"It's really now all about ego and pride rather than the common sense and the economics of the situation."

Asiata says if it won the election the opposition would immediately accede to the doctors' claims.