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Tualauta candidates file complaint of “provable fraud” in election

fili@samoanews.com

Two candidates for the Tualauta District #15  House race in the Nov. 6th general election yesterday filed a complaint in the High Court against respondents — chief election officer Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono and another Tualauta candidate, Florence Saulo — “for provable fraud”.

Unofficial results from the general election have given the two Tualauta seats to incumbent Larry Sanitoa and new comer Saulo, a long time local business woman. Sanitoa and Saulo received the top votes for the district.

Petitioners in the complaint are Lucia Bartley and Esther Wall, who are represented by local attorney Mark Ude.

The complaint alleges in part that Saulo “was at all times pertinent to this action a citizen of the Independent State of Samoa and therefore an ineligible candidate for Tualauta District #15” and Saulo “was determined to be a winner for one of the two” Tualauta seats.

According to the complaint, the petitioners believe that a birth certificate for Saulo was not provided to the Election Office as was required by other candidates for the House of Representatives.

ELECTION FRAUD

In their first cause of action, petitioners allege that Soliai did not ascertain or require Saulo to produce a birth certificate in order to run as candidate. It also says that Wall approached Soliai in October of this year about this issue and was informed that Saulo “may be one-parent.”

Furthermore, the failure by the chief election officer to establish the qualifications of Saulo as a legitimate candidate — in accordance with local election law — “constitutes provable fraud” according to Wall and Bartley.

“Petitioners believe that fraud has occurred on the part of [Soliai] Fuimaono and Saulo, who have used their connections and authority, as well as others, to engage in acts of fraud,” the complaint alleges.

BALLOT IRREGULARITIES

In their second cause of action, the complaint states that Soliai, in violation of local election law, where in multi-race districts, the ballot shall state that the qualified elector shall not vote for more than the number of seats available or the number of candidates listed where such number is less than the seats available in past election on Nov. 2, 2012, the complaint alleges.

Petitioners observed the ballots in their District (15) indicated verbage different from the language stated in the statute, it further alleges .

Petitioners believe the language contained in the ballot said that voters must vote for two, as opposed to the statutory language, which says that the voter shall not vote for more than two candidates in Tualauta District, the complaint alleges.

“Petitioners believe that such ballot irregularities caused confusion, as some voters voted for only one, and some voters voted for more than two,” the complaint states.

Petitioners asked the court for a judgement against the respondents and each of the them as follows:

•     cancellation of votes for Saulo

•     invalidation of Saulo’s candidacy; and

•     for such other and further relief as the court may deem just and proper.

A hearing date on this matter should be available today. At the close of business yesterday was the deadline to contest results of the general election by filing a complaint with the High Court.



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