Tautua Samoa Party
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Tautua Samoa Party (Samoan: Vaega Faaupufai le Tautua Samoa) is a political party in Samoa. The party's policies include economic development, particularly in the agricultural sector, public service reform, a limit on the number of Associate Ministers, and a reduction in the term of Parliament from 5 to 3 or 4 years. Its current leader is Palusalue Fa’apo II, following the leadership of Leatinu’u Salote Lesa.
|Leader||Palusalue Fa’apo II|
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The party was formed by 11 independent Members of Parliament in December 2008. The party's founders described their aim as providing parliamentary opposition to the ruling Human Rights Protection Party.
Under the Samoan Electoral Act, registering as members of a new party would have required Tautua Samoa's members to contest a by-election for their parliamentary seats. To avoid this, the party was initially registered under the Companies Act, and its members remained listed as independents. However, as such it was not an officially recognized party by the Parliament of Samoa. Samoa at times has had no official opposition parties, because of restrictive Parliamentary rules that control and constrain the formation of opposition parties.
The party launched with no formal leader; its interim chair was Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi. In January 2009, the Speaker of Parliament ordered Tautua Samoa to provide formal notice of its existence and membership. The party formally identified itself, and nine Members of Parliament identified themselves as members. In May, Speaker Tolofuaivalelei Falemoe Lei'ataua revoked the parliamentary membership of all nine of the party's MPs, on the grounds that joining a part after being elected "breached the provisions of the Electoral Act and the parliament standing orders". Their expulsion from Parliament would prompt by-elections. Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi stated that he would seek an interim injunction against the Speaker's ruling. The Supreme Court of Samoa cancelled the by-elections and reinstated the MPs, stating that the speaker's position was wrong and the party formation was legal.
In March 2010, the Electoral Act was amended, forbidding any Member of Parliament from leaving his initial party while retaining his seat. Consequently, three members of the Tautua Samoa Party resigned from Parliament: party chairman Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi, and former HRPP cabinet ministers Palusalue Fa’apo II and Va'ai Papu Vailupe. Their resignation will lead to by-elections in their constituencies: Vaisigano number one, Faleata west, and Safata territorial. Only those three Members of Parliament resigned, because only they declared they were members of the party following its formal registration. Other MPs who had initially aligned themselves with the party are therefore not officially members.
In September 2010 the party announced that it had made an agreement with the Samoa Party and is negotiating with the People's Party for the latter to run their candidates under the Tautua banner. Shortly thereafter, the leader of the Samoa Party, Feo Nemaia Esau, announced that his party had disbanded and merged into the Tautua Samoa Party. He explained that the merger would form a more "united opposition" to the ruling Human Rights Protection Party.
In November, the party announced that it had reached an agreement with the United Samoa People's Party and several independent politicians to form an organisation, Tumua'i Tutusa, to campaign together for the election. The new group's chairman, Afualo Dr. Wood Salele, stated that the organisation would seek divine intervention, notably through a week of fasting and praying, to defeat the Human Rights Protection Party in the upcoming election. In December, party president Papalii Tavita Moala resigned unexpectedly, and Afualo Dr. Woods Salele was chosen for the presidency in his place.
Tautua Samoa Party President Va'aelua Eti Alesana, who was elected in February 2011, died on 4 October 2011. On 11 November, Leatinu’u Salote Lesa became the party's president - the first woman to lead a political party in Samoa.
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- "Woman becomes President", Samoa Observer, 16 November 2011