25 Aug 2014

American Samoa's free-food elections threatened

7:49 am on 25 August 2014

An American Samoan tradition of free food on election day could be made illegal if proposed amendments to local election laws are passed.

Offering food during campaigning or on election day is a custom in American Samoa but the practice has been likened to bribery with the current administration moving to outlaw it.

A bill to amend the laws was submitted to the Fono in March this year but only introduced last week.

It would make the distribution of free food an offence punishable by one year in jail or a one-thousand dollar fine.

Our correspondent, Fili Sagapolutele, says it is a clash of cultures.

"This has been a practice ever since American Samoa started doing elections but it has become an issue where people are now thinking, as the turn of the 21st century that campaigners and their supporters are trying to bribe voters."

Fili Sagapolutele says the bill will also ban customary presentations of money or items of value by candidates or their representatives.