1 Feb 2019

Confusion over status of dissenting Samoan MP

11:50 am on 1 February 2019

Uncertainty remains over the status of a former cabinet minister and parliamentary speaker in Samoa who has strongly denied leaving the ruling Human Rights Protection Party.

Samoan MP, Laauli Leuatea Polataivao Schmidt

Laauli Leuatea Schmidt Photo: RNZ Pacific / Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

Laauli Leuatea Schmidt insisted he was still a member of the HRPP and he hadn't been informed of any developments to the contrary.

Earlier, Prime Minister Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi denied sacking Laauli but said the MP had left of his own free will after he voted against three constitutional amendments the government had supported.

Laauli voted with one of two independents in the House against the move.

He raised concerns over the removal of a constituency in Savai'i under the amendments.

In response Tuila'epa warned MPs not to mislead the public in their speeches.

The prime minister told KHJ news that Laauli's decision to vote against the amendments sealed his fate.

Tuila'epa said it was ultimately the speaker's job to deal with such matters but he said his party could not hold onto someone who had risen through their ranks only to vote against them at a crucial moment.

Tuila'epa said that when an HRPP member did that it was taken as a sign that the member no longer supported the party line and they had effectively left the group.

The prime minister said he wrote to the Gagaifomauga number 3 MP to inform him that his departure from the party had been "gladly accepted".

However, Laauli contended that no meeting was called and a decision to remove a caucus member from the party was not the decision of an individual.

Tuila'epa said there was a standing order regarding party-hopping in that the member will lose the seat and a bi-election is to be held.

But he said the final decision would be up to the Speaker of the House.