11 Nov 2015

New Samoa political party planned

From , 6:02 am on 11 November 2015
Levaopolo Talatonu has quit one constituency and enrolled in another ahead of the March 2016 general election.

Samoa opposition MP Levaopolo Talatonu. Photo: Tipi Autagavaia/RNZ

Samoa opposition MP Levaopolo Talatonu is to form a new political party, but will officially contest the election as an independent.

Levaopolo says he has the backing of 16 candidates so far, some of whom are prominent public servants and former politicians who want a third party in parliament.

Levaopolo is currently the MP for Gaga'emauga number 2 but says he will stand next year in the Salega territorial constituency.

However, our correspondent in Samoa, Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia, told Don Wiseman that because of party hopping laws Levaopolo is not yet able to officially leave the Tautua Party.

AUTAGAVAIA TIPI AUTAGAVAIA: So he is now in the process of negotiating with other independent candidates for the purpose of them supporting this political party with the hope that after this general election, how many candidates will make it to the election in Parliament. Those are the candidates who are going to be officially registered as members of this political party which they are yet to name.

DON WISEMAN: Just explain why it is that you cant register a party until after the elections, it seems cart before the horse stuff?

ATA: Yes as I can recall a couple of years ago or three years ago now parliament passed legislation to stop party hopping and now Levaopolo cannot register a political party right now because he is still a member of the Tautua party. If he is going to register a political party and telling people that look I am a now forming a political party with this name, then under the standing orders of parliament he will be out of parliament totally.

DW: Why does he want to form a new party?

ATA: Because he says some of the independent candidates who are willing to run in next years general election do not want to support either the Tautua or the ruling HRPP party. They want a new political party for the purpose of having three political parties in parliament.

DW: A different party, will it have different ideas and attitudes?

ATA: Absolutely they will have policies and all that after the general elections according to Levaopolo whether it is Tautua or the ruling HRPP party will have whatever seats they have. And they have the balance of power and they will join and negotiate.

DW: So he is officially still part of the Tautua party how do they feel about all of this?

ATA: Well I asked him how do you feel leaving the Tautua party, well for the two parliamentary terms you have been in parliament you are still a supporter of the opposition party and he said well there are things that need to be changed. That is why he makes a move to form a new political party. He didn't reveal to me those things that need to be changed.

DW: What about the party itself though, how would they feel about this?

ATA: The leader of the Tautua party is lying very low he hasn't called any media conference since the last couple of months and there are other reports that one of the Tautua whips, MP for  Faleata West, Lealailepule you know reportedly 80 percent supporting the ruling HRPP party. And that is another reason why Lealai is not declaring he is going to run for HRPP party in the next general elections because under the standing orders once he declares that the  seat will automatically be vacant.

DW: Levaopolo, why is he moving to a different seat?

ATA: Well he has said he has the support of that constituency, he is confident if he is going to run from the same constituency Gaga'emauga number No. 2, he wont make it back to parliament. And he says that is another part of his family, and his family is advising him to run for that constituency next year.