17 Jan 2019

American Samoan senator sworn in despite controversy

1:39 pm on 17 January 2019

Despite objections from some ranking chiefs, traditional leader Logoai Siaki Logoai has been sworn in as senator this week, completing the American Samoa Senate membership of 18.

Logoai Siaki Logoai is sworn in as Manu'a District #1 Senator

Logoai Siaki Logoai is sworn in as Manu'a District #1 Senator Photo: RNZ Pacific / Monica Miller

Chiefs from Tau and Falesao counties in the Manu'a island group objected to Logoai's selection, arguing that it was not done in accordance with the law.

However, the Senate called a special meeting this week, for the swearing in of Logoai to fill one of the two seats for Manu'a District Number One, left vacant following the October death of senator Galeai Moaliitele Tu'ufuli.

Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie said the law and Constitution are clear and traditional leaders of each senatorial district are given the right to make a selection in accordance with the Samoan culture.

Gaoteote said each district has its own protocol when it came to selection, with some rotating the senatorial seat.

The Senate President, the governor had already issued the Writ of Election, in accordance with the Constitution and law, for the selection of Logoai.

Gaoteote acknowledged receiving letters opposing the selection, asking that the matter be returned to traditional leaders of that district to decide on.

According to Gaoteote, there have been similar letters of objections in the past sent to the Senate following a district's selection of their respective senator.

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