16 May 2011

Bribery convictions spawn Samoa law change calls

1:40 pm on 16 May 2011

Election candidates in Samoa who have been found guilty of bribery and treating are calling for a review of the electoral law, saying it goes against tradition and culture.

The latest to lose a petition and his seat is the Associate Minister of natural resources and environment, and HRPP party MP, Seuala Taua Kitiona Tavaga.

Seuala was found guilty of eight counts of bribery and four counts of treating in an election petition brought against him by an independent unsuccessful candidate, Fuataga Kasimani Lautusi, who is the paramount chief of Lalomanu village.

The petitioner was also found guilty of six counts of bribery and treating in a counter petition by the respondent.

Our correspondent in Apia, Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia, says candidates that have been found guilty want the electoral law reviewed.

"So they want to review the law and consider our culture, giving money and food and drinks, is part of our culture. But if you look at the law, if you give someone at the time of the election, if you give money or food or drinks or whatever, to a voter or an elector, that's bribery."

Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia says the Aleipata Itupa i Luga constituency now has to elect an MP in an upcoming by-election.