11 Jan 2006

Leader of Samoa's SDUP disputes residency issue ahead of vote

6:02 pm on 11 January 2006

The leader of the Samoa Democratic United Party, Le Mamea Ropati, has disputed suggestions by the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele, that Samoans must satisfy a three year residential requirement in order to vote in the next general election.

Le Mamea said the law was clear on the issue, that Samoan citizens anywhere could vote, as long as they were registered.

He said the only people who must reside in the country for three years before election day, were those wanting to run.

Le Mamea told the Samoa Observer that the Human Rights Protection Party was worried because he said it knew that many Samoan citizens overseas supported the SDUP.

Le Mamea also alleged that the postponement of the election date -from the 24th of February to the 31st of March - was another ploy by the government to put overseas voters off.

The electoral commissioner, Tanuvasa Isitolo Lemisio, has confirmed that as long as Samoan citizens overseas are registered to vote, they can do so.

He said even Samoan citizens with dual or triple citizenship could vote if they had registered.

Tanuvasa said the law stated that voter registration must close four weeks before the election date.