25 Aug 2009

Samoan parliament's individual seats could be assimilated with all MPs

8:58 pm on 25 August 2009

Amendments to Samoa's electoral act could see Individual seats changed to become like all the others in parliament.

At present voters of mixed heritage can choose to vote on a roll for Individual Seats, and contenders do not have to hold a chiefly title.

The proposed amendment would see all 49 seats require MPs to hold a Matai title

Our correspondent in Apia, Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia, says the fairness of the Individual seats has been debated for some time:

"There was always a debate, not only inside but outside the House and across the country as to why those for these two seats were taking their untitled name and becoming Members of Parliament, which is so unfair to the Samoans who are only entitled to run in General Elections if they have a Matai title."

Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia, says many people feel doing away with the need for a Matai title for MPS would undermine the Matai system and Samoan culture

Samoa's associate minister of Trade and Commerce, Hans Joachim Keil, who is one of the individual MPs, has backed the amendment and says he will seek to secure a Matai title before the next election.