In an urgent village meeting called on Saturday morning, the village of Leauva’a banished two election candidates, Sala Iose McCarthy and Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio.
Held in Leauva’a in the presence of the high chiefs and other matai, the village council also banished former Cabinet Minister, Sala Vaimili.
This was confirmed by the eldest title holder of Tuala, Tuala Lelea Lilii during an interview with the Samoa Observer yesterday.
Tuala said the main reason for the decision reached by the villagers is because of a petition filed against the current M.P. of Gagaemauga No.1 and Minister of Police, Sala Fata Pinati.
“That (petition) is basically the reason why they have been banished,” said the high chief.
“They have defied the village by not attending any of the meetings called where they were asked to attend…the village was looking for ways to reconcile the parties.
A fono manu (urgent meeting) was called for everyone to attend including those three (Sala Iose, Sala Vaimili and Tuala Iosefo). Any meeting called by the paramount chiefs should be respected and abided by everyone but they have defied the village.”
It was then that the village council made the decision on Saturday last week to banish the matai and their supporters.
Tuala Ponifasio was not in the office when he was contacted for a comment yesterday.
It was also not possible to get a comment from Sala Iose and Sala Vaimili.
Tautua candidate, Sala Iose McCarthy had filed for petition on criminal charges against the Minister of Police before the District Court.
The trial is scheduled to begin this week.
Tuala Ponifasio on the other hand is also facing several criminal charges in relation to the election brought by constituents of Gagaemauga No1.
His case is still pending.
According to Tuala, the village has been trying to reconcile the parties by calling meetings for the matai to attend.
“Sala has won the election and (they) should let it be,” he said.
“But they are still challenging it and have turned down meetings where they were asked to attend and the village made the decision on Saturday in the fono manu to banish them. We don’t want this kind of division within the village.”
The high chief was also asked about the conditions of the banishment.
Tuala said from his understanding, the matai and those who supported them are no longer allowed to participate in village events (te’a ma le nu’u).
“There is the banishment for life (soloia aufuefue),” he explained.
“But from my understanding that is not what we are doing. If they are sorry and say they are, we will welcome them back.”
As for claims that the village would be interfering with the Court of law, Tuala disagrees.
He pointed out that the village is doing its duty and their decision has nothing to do with the Court proceedings.
“Their banishment is because they had defied the village by not attending meetings they were asked to attend but it has nothing to do with the Court and our belief is that it’s not interfering with the Court of law.”
Tuala also added that the other reason why the village is unhappy with the banished matai is because they do not live in Leauva’a.
“Sala Vaimili lives in Vailele and Tuala Ponifasio lives in Alafua,” he said.
“They don’t actually live in the village and see what is happening here. It’s important for them to participate in the meetings but to go against the village, it’s not right.”