Sen Soliai calls for a referendum on some of ConCon amendments defeated in 2010
Sen. Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono has called on his colleagues to consider reviewing the many amendments approved in the 2010 Constitutional Convention for consideration by the Fono for inclusion in next year’s general election, where electors can vote on the matters.
During yesterday’s Senate session Soliai says there were several important amendments approved during the convention but were defeated when presented to voters during the November 2010 general election.
Soliai noted that as the territory prepares for next year’s November election, he is asking his fellow senators to look at bringing some of the more important and pressing amendments already approved by the convention for thorough review, and place them on the referendum for the next election in 2014.
He says it was a major task, involving every sector of the community — including senators — during the constitutional convention but it was rejected due to some problems, however, the Senator did not elaborate further.
(Samoa News should point out that in 2010, Soliai was the chief election officer and told lawmakers at the time that after consulting with government attorneys, it was appropriate to put out the amendments as a one-question vote or ballot, despite community outcry.)
Soliai says he doesn't believe there's a need to conduct another convention, but instead for the Fono to look at issues approved during the 2010 convention to be reviewed, debated, and approved for a referendum.
He said it would also be faster to proceed through the Fono than having to wait for another convention to be called.
Soliai says one important amendment issue deals with the Fono’s veto override — which was rejected twice. He believes this happened because voters didn’t fully understand the issue and there was no sufficient explanation from the Fono.
(Veto override was a stand-alone referendum in the 2008 election — where it was narrowly defeated. It came up again in the 2012 election, where the previous ASPA board of directors went on state run KVZK-TV several times to tell the public to vote “no”. )
In yesterday’s session, Sen. Laolagi F.S. Vaeao agreed with Soliai, saying the Senate can work together with the Fono’s legal team to put together the joint resolutions for amendments to be passed by the Fono and presented to voters.
Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie agreed there were several amendments approved by the convention that were very important and regrettably, they were rejected last year. He also said the veto override issue was an important issue, and perhaps people didn’t fully understand it, and that was the reason it was rejected.
He noted the Senate has enough time before the November 2014 election to revisit the convention-approved amendments for review, so they can be included in a referendum next year.
There are two ways to approve amendments to the constitution in order to have them placed on the ballot. One is through a Constitutional Convention and the second is through the Fono, where an amendment must be approved by two-thirds of both chambers.
There was strong criticism in 2010 over the way the amendments were put to voters with only a one-question ballot answering "yes" or "no" as to whether or not to pass the amendments.
At the time, voters told Samoa News there were several important amendments that should have been approved, but the way it was presented to voters was not the appropriate way. Voters would have preferred to vote on each amendment separately.
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