23 Jan 2003

Samoan parliament debates commission report on electoral reform

3:09 pm on 23 January 2003

Samoa's parliament has begun discussing a report by a commission of enquiry on electoral reform.

The prime minister, Tuilaepa Sailele, says some recommendations are delicate, such as removing seats reserved for citizens of non-Samoan ancestry, voter identification cards and the custom of giving villages pre-election gifts.

Opening debate on the report, Tuilaepa said most of those who made submissions to the commission had suggested that the two seats reserved for those on the Individual Voters Roll be removed.

The more than 2 thousand voters on the roll are non-matai who qualify to vote if aged 21 and of non-Samoan ancestry.

Non-matai and the rest of the general population consider this unfair as only matai can stand for the other 47 seats in the House.

The commission of inquiry recommends giving the Individual Voters' seats to the Apia area.