Election matters drag on

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Marj Moore

Although it is only a month or so since the General Elections it seems like forever as the aftermath of petitions and counter petitions continue to be dealt with by the Courts.

However as we all know, the real wheeling and dealing is done outside of the courts and much of it has little to do with fairness and accountability – something we are sadly getting used to.

There is interference of the subtle and not so subtle variety which has allegedly come from the highest office in town as well as from individuals, families, Village Councils and others who may be impacted directly by who the winning candidate will be.

Pleas and bargaining over petitions being dropped and pressure from fellow matai and families are just some of the stories that have come out of the community in the past weeks. 

Then there is also the question mark over the validity of the warrant of arrest for lawyer and newly-appointed Minister of Justice and Court Administration, Fa’aolesa Ainu’u Katopau in American Samoa.

How embarrassing.

This matter is still not settled with some confusion from the Attorney General’s office in the territory over who should be dealing with the matter.

The American Samoa A.G. Talauega Eleasalo Ale has claimed his Office has no role in the execution of the Warrant and that it was never acted upon was “probably because the person was not there.”

Presumably the A.G. is not suggesting that if allegations are made about you and there is a case to answer but you choose instead to shoot through, the matter simply remains on the books but nothing is done about it?

Whatever the rationalisation, it appears that Court procedures need to be reviewed, tightened and possibly updated.

Meanwhile in today’s paper there is a story of yet another General Election - related matter before the Courts.

Involving the case of two defendants accused of handing out money in the constituency of Gagaemauga No 3, the lawyer representing the men was himself grilled by the presiding judge when it became obvious he was inadequately  prepared and was not even apprised of exactly what the charges are.

Wasting the Court’s time not to mention the poor service to the lawyer’s clients is not appreciated by our judges.

And with over 100 investigations dealt with by the Police each week, many of which could end up in Court, there is little sympathy or patience for a hold up of this nature.

And as for the rest of us who have been living and breathing elections for up to a year, we totally agree with the judge’s frustration.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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