14 Jan 2021

Samoans turn out to roadshow for new political party

4:01 pm on 14 January 2021

A former head of state has thrown his weight behind a new opposition party in Samoa, less than three months out from an election.

Laauli speaking to reporters

Laauli Leauatea Schmidt Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Tipi Autagavaia

At a roadshow this week, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi joined an appeal for members of the Falealili 2 constituency to lend their votes to the FAST party.

Tui Atua was prime minister from 1976 to 1982, and was the head of state from 2007 to 2017.

The Samoa Observer reports hundreds gathered at a church hall to hear the FAST leader, Laauli Leauatea Schmidt, outline his party's plans for Samoa.

The party was formed last year in the wake of a split in the governing party, and this week, former deputy prime minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa announced that she, too, was joining to contest April's election.

The moves look set to create one the biggest challenges to face the ruling Human Rights Protection Party, which has held power since 1982, and prime minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who has ruled since 1998.

At a party conference on Wednesday, Tuilaepa laughed off questions about whether he was worried, calling the FAST party "better liars than satan."