Chief banned from village in American Samoa
A village chief in American Samoa banned for questioning the spending of public funds now plans legal action.
A village in American Samoa has banned a chief and stripped him of his title, allegedly because he questioned a high chief over the spending of public funds.
Vailoatai's village council chiefs confirmed the decision after a petition was signed by 18 chiefs and orators, and passed on to the Office of Samoan Affairs.
Sara Vui-Talitu has more:
VUI-TALITU: The former lawmaker Vailopa Lopa Seti says despite being banned from Vailoatai, he has no plans to vacate his home any time soon, or drop his title of 'Vailopa'. He has sought legal advice and now plans to take court action against the village council's paramount high chief, Satele Galu Satele Senior over the matter. He says it all came about because he simply asked Satele Galu Satele Senior for financial reports on how US$20,000 of public funds given for a village trip to attend Samoa's 50th Anniversary celebrations, had been spent. He says he made the request because he had been away at the time and wanted to know.
SETI: He banned me from the village, because of the question that I asked that I needed to see the financial report, the use of that money that they been given by the government.
VUI-TALITU:Vailopa Seti says the funds in question come out of money allocated by the government for development projects. He says the village needs to be held accountable for its spending and villagers need to know, too. He says he still can't understand the reaction by village leaders either, saying it is unreasonable and over the top. Unless he gets a court order, Vailopa Seti says nothing has changed. In our culture, the reason to ban a high-talking chief or a paramount chief is when you kill somebody or you rape some girl, or whatever. But this kind of reason, it's senseless. Our correspondent in Pago Pago, Fili Sagapolutele, says Vailopa Seti is a businessman who runs several business ventures and understands money.
SAGAPOLUTELE: He was one of the former lawmakers who pushed very hard on a lot of issues during his time and he's very outspoken. He's outspoken often in the fact to get down to the issues of what happened to certain money in government. And now that he's outside of politics he's also going after these smaller issues that pop up.
VUI-TALITU: Fili Sagapolutele admits that such a village ban is not common, with the last one reportedly occurring decades ago, over on the Manu'a island group.
SAGAPOLUTELE: For American Samoa, it really is very, very rare, an occasion that something like this comes up. The last time I can recall this happened was about 20 years ago.
VUI-TALITU: Meanwhile two village chiefs have told a local newspaper, the Samoa News, that Satele Galu Satele had nothing to do with the money that was spent on that trip to Samoa, and that every expense is accounted for.
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