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Leasina County follows protocol, selects Atualevao

Leasina County’s council and traditional leaders have selected Atualevao Sosene Asofia of Aoloau as their new senator for the next four years following a county meeting held over the weekend.

Atualevao will take over the seat currently held by Sen. Lualemaga Faoa, chairman of the Senate Investigative Committee and chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Lualemaga’s term in office officially ends before 12noon on Jan. 3, 2013, before the new members take the oath of office.

Leasina is comprised of the villages of Malaeloa, Aoloau and Aasu.  And in accordance with traditional protocol, set by the county’s ancestors, it is now Aoloau’s turn to the seat.

At the meeting, Tuilefano Vaela’a of Malaeloa announced his support of Lualemaga to be returned to the Senate for the next four years. However, Lualemaga told Samoa News that Aoloau traditional leaders came with their candidate, Atualevao.

“So with two traditional leaders, whose names are presented to the county leaders, I made the decision to proceed with the county’s traditional protocol with the senatorial seat going to Aoloau,” said Lualemaga in a brief phone interview Wednesday. “I gave in and made this final decision to maintain peace and harmony within our Leasina county. It is very important to me that we live in harmony within our county and the territory.”

Rep. Maneafaiga Faoa told Le Lali/Samoa News early this week that the current seat is held by Aasu, through Lualemaga, and confirmed that traditional protocol has it that it is Aoloau’s turn. He also confirmed that Atualevao has been selected by the county leaders as the next senator.

Also during the county meeting, the leaders selected Maneafaiga, the out-going Leasina faipule—as the next county “fa’alupega” (county clerk), which is the post currently held by Atualevao until the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Lualemaga said the SIC is looking at wrapping up its work before Dec. 31 and issuing a final report that will be presented to the Senate President’s Office and other local officials.

SIC’s probe into the federal Section 1602 Program, which is administered by the Development Bank of American Samoa, is the only pending issue for the committee. Prior to the Nov. 20 run off election in the gubernatorial race, Lualemaga said in a media statement that he is hoping to hold another hearing on the Section 1602 program before year’s end.

Samoa News reporter Fili Sagapolutele contribute to this report.