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A few minor problems mar election process

Deputy Commissioner of Public Safety Leiseau Laumoli said the election process was smooth, as people cast their ballots throughout the day beginning from 6 a.m. up to 6 p.m. He thanked the people of American Samoa for their cooperation throughout Election day.

There were, however, after the results were announced in the evening, some problems that occurred.

In Nu’uuli, vehicles were reported to police as being stoned. Leiseau said luckily no one was injured and the suspects were not to be found when police arrived.

In Petesa, four females from the village were arrested on election night following allegations that they had damaged a sign that belongs to Lolo and Lemanu — located in Petesa.

Vaililigi Tusi, Vailea Tusi, Naomi Tausaga and Bernadette Siua are all charged with public peace disturbance, however the government is looking into the matter to determine if additional charges will be filed. 

The defendants made their initial appearance in District Court on Wednesday before Associate Justice John Ward.

According to the government’s case, around 9 p.m. Tuesday evening, police received a report that two females were observed breaking a sign near their residence.

It's alleged when police officers arrived at the scene, they were met by the suspects’ father, who told police he was expecting their arrival.

The four defendants, Vaililigi, Vailea, Naomi and Bernadette admitted to police they were responsible for the damage to the Lolo and Lemanu campaign sign, which they stated was located on their property.

The police officer asked the suspects' father for permission to take them to the police station for further questioning, when the suspects started to get loud and ask why they were being taken in and what business did the police have with them, given the sign was located on their property.

The suspects ended up cooperating and they were then transported to the West Substation. Court filings state that on the way to the police station one of the suspects called out to people on the road, “what you looking at?” and she said to the police officers, “If you lock us up that’s okay, because if you let us go… there’s going to be a war.”

There is a note on the affidavit stating that the damaged sign belonged to Lolo and Lemanu and at the time of the arrests three of the four suspects were observed wearing t-shirts in support of Faoa and Taufete’e.

The four defendants, who are being held on bail of $200 each, are represented by Assistant Public Defender Donna Clement while prosecuting is Assistant Attorney General Masya Uchino.

In Matu’u, the police were called in for assistance after election results were announced at the headquarters of Lolo and Lemanu. Enthusiastic youth supporters there were running back and forth on the main highway, holding up Lolo and Lemanu signs and banners and blocking traffic.

Also, people were reportedly parking on the main road, and going in to congratulate the winning team — leaving their vehicles unattended.

“It’s understandable that the youth were celebrating their victory but they conducted it in an unsafe way and they were instructed not to run across the road while moving vehicles were passing for their safety,” Commander of the Traffic Division, Ta’aloloioufaiva Captain John Cendrowski  said.

Several units were seen at the Matu'u headquarters, where officers worked to keep traffic moving smoothly.

Captain Cendrowski also reported that overall no one was caught driving while under the influence and there were no major accidents on the main highway, with just one minor accident where one vehicle backed into another.

He also said that following the election results, Commander of the Criminal Investigation Division, Lavata’i Taase Sagapolutele, who was in charge of providing security for the Main Election Office headquarters in Tafuna, said the election process was smooth and peaceful in that area.