12 Jan 2006

Samoa Opposition say PM has misunderstood voting laws

8:21 am on 12 January 2006

The Samoa Opposition leader, Le Mamea Ropati, says the prime minister doesn't understand the country's voting laws.

The Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele has said Samoans must satisfy a three year residential requirement in order to vote in the next general election.

However Le Mamea says the law is clear on the issue and Samoan citizens around the world can vote as long as they are registered.

Le Mamea says the prime minister is wrong.

"He misunderstood and also confused. He is making people confused putting out these false statements. Also the other thing is our Constitution is also specific on this issue. It is the fundemental right of every citizen to vote, irrespective of whether you are living in Samoa or you are living in another country. It is a fundemental right."

The electoral commissioner Tanuvasa Isitolo Lemisio has confirmed that as Samoan citizens overseas can vote if registered.

He says the residential requirement only applies to those wanting to stand in the elections.

The election was recently changed from the 24th of February to the 31st of March.

Le Mamea says he has been approached by several people already seeking clarification of the election dates.

He says he finds it strange what the government has done.

They've changed it twice now, before they said it was on the 3rd of March, then they later changed it to the 24th of February then they changed it again to the 31st of March. People are quite confused, we don't know what they are up to.