26 Jan 2021

No complaints ahead of Samoa election

7:20 am on 26 January 2021

Samoa's Electoral Commissioner says there have been no complaints received about candidates trying to curry favour with voters.

The practice known as o'o or momoli involves presentations of money, food and fine mats.

In the lead-up to the 9 April General Election, there are widespread allegations of the practice, but no official complaints reports the Samoa Observer.

Acting Electoral Commissioner Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio

Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio Photo: SUPPLIED / Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

Commissioner Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio said o'o was only allowed after the election, for a period of three years when it is banned until after the 2026 election.

Moves to restrict the practice have been unpopular with voters and seen as an intrusion into a long-standing Samoan cultural tradition.

The traditional presentation of money and gifts to a village within a constituency was often held to inform voters of a candidates' intention to run.

Prior to the 2016 General Election it was mandated that the practice could only occur within a 12-month period following the election.

The change was intended to reduce real and perceived undue influence on the electoral process by way of Samoan tradition.