American Samoan voters unlikely to support Senate veto powers
Measure to bring greater independence to American Samoa unlikely to garner public support.
A move to bring greater independence to American Samoa is unlikely to be supported by its citizens, who fear too much power will be granted to unelected officials.
The American Samoa Senate has approved a measure giving the Fono the authority to override the Governor's veto.
It requires approval by the United States Congress and voters, and our correspondent, Fili Sagapolutele, told Christopher Gilbert the United States wants more self-governance for the country, but voters there may be less willing.
Fili Sagapolutele: It has to go through the legislature for both the Senate and the House to approve such measures before it's presented to voters. It keeps coming up every year but it's becoming more important at this point because law makers and the current governor want more self-governance for American Samoa. Because the current policy for any line-item veto based on the constitution, the final decisions is made by the secretary of the interior. But, American Samoa wants to keep that here locally and have all issues done locally, to improve its self governance and independence, for the fact they're making their own decisions instead of Washington making the final decision.
Christopher Gilbert: Does that mean that better decisions could be made, because they'll be made by locals?
FS: They wanted to make sure that when they're talking about legislation that affects American Samoa, they wanted that legislation and final decisions to be made in American Samoa. They believe that Washington doesn't know what's happening in the territory and law makers in American Samoa believe they should have the power to override the governor's veto. Because they know exactly what's happening and the reason why they move forward with any bills.
CG: Is it likely to pass the US Congress?
FS: At this point it'll need to pass through the local House of Representatives, which is expected to happen. However, it needs to go to the voters and the voters have already rejected this back in 2008. Now, people are complaining again that, one of the issues that came up is senators in American Samoa are not elected by popular voters or by election. There are a lot of people that are very leery in supporting such a measure. They don't believe it's right for a body like the Senate that are not elected by the people to override a veto by a governor who is elected by the people.
CG: Would the Americans be willing to give more independence to American Samoa?
FS: At this point I truly believe that the US governemnt and congress would like to give American Samoa its true self governance so that they'll be able to do a lot of the things that they need to do. It's something that the US department of interior has raised over the years, that they'd like to see the territories be able to maintain a lot of control within their borders, or within their law making or policy sessions. I'm sure they're going to be able to approve whatever comes out of American Samoa if the voters, if the voters do approve it.
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