10 Jul 2006

Samoa electoral commission to look into eligibility of MPs

10:35 am on 10 July 2006

Samoa's current Electoral commission is to look into the issue of eligibility for members of parliament as a result of a ruling party MP and Associate Minister for Revenue's criminal conviction in the past 15 years.

The Associate Minister was convicted in New Zealand in 1990 of murder after an incident at an Otara shopping center where a Tongan man was killed.

The Minister for Justice and the Electoral office has said the commission should review the Act and make recommendations to parliament.

The current law can only disqualify a person from being an elected member of parliament for being an undischarged bankrupt or being convicted in Samoa or American Samoa.

Convictions can be taken into account if the offence is punishable by death or by imprisonment for a term of 2 years or more.

The Prime Minister, Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, is quoted in the Samoa Observer defending his Associate Minister.

Tuila'epa says the MP was a man of integrity for admitting his conviction and the time he served in jail.

He pointed out that many have served days in jail and gone on to become Members of parliament.