23 Jun 2010

Paramount American Samoa chief selected chair of Constitutional Convention

8:09 pm on 23 June 2010

Paramount American Samoa chief and Senator, Mauga Tasi Asuega, has been selected by the traditional Samoan custom of consensus as chairman of the 6th constitutional convention.

There were five nominations for the chairmanship, including the Governor Togiola Tulafono, even though he is not a delegate but an ex officio member.

But all the nominees withdrew their names out of respect for Mauga and delegates agreed, without a vote being taken that he be chair.

The convention has adopted rules for the conduct of the proceedings and five subcommittees are to begin reviewing 45 proposed amendments to the territory's constitution.

One issue likely to be raised at the convention is the status of women in the territory's villages.

The convention includes 15 female delegates, more than any previous constitutional Convention.

The Governor has asked county councils not to select only matai or chiefs as delegates, but to also include women and youth.

One of the women delegates, Sarona Maae, says she wants to ask why some villages ban women matai.

"In many families there are no qualified full blooded people in there. And then the only reason that we can't move in to replace our families is because of the village rule. You know I respect the Fa'asamoa and all that but there should be some exceptions."