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Despite objections, Logoai sworn in as one of two Manu'a #1 senators

Chief Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr., administers the oath of office to Logoai Siaki Logoai

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Senate now has its full membership of 18 senators, after traditional leader Logoai Siaki Logoai was sworn-in for Manu'a #1 by Chief Associate Judge Mamea Sala Jr., yesterday morning.

The ceremony was held during a Senate meeting led by Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie. The purpose of the meeting was to fill one of the two seats for Manu’a #1, left vacant following the passing of the late senator Galeai Moaliitele Tu’ufuli.

Gaoteote said the law and Constitution are clear: traditional leaders of each senatorial district are given the right to select their senator in accordance with the Samoan culture. He noted that each district has their own protocol in the selection process, such as rotating the senatorial seat in the respective villages or counties within the district.

According to the Senate President, the governor had already issued the Writ of Election, in accordance with the Constitution and law, for the selection of the traditional leader to fill the vacant Manua #1 seat.

Additionally, he has received required documents from the Office of Samoan Affairs, as well as notification from the Governor’s Office, regarding the new Manu’a #1 senator. At the same time , he said he has also received letters opposing the selection of Logoai, asking that the matter be returned to traditional leaders of that district to decide on.

According to Gaoteote, there have been similar letters of objections in the past sent to the Senate following a district’s selection of their respective senator. However, he said the Senate will move forward with its work, as all necessary paperwork have been submitted to the Senate.

With that, Gaoteote appointed a three-member special committee chaired by Sen. Tuaolo Manaia Fruean, along with Sens. Magalei Logovi’i and Fa’amausili Mau Jr., to review all documents presented to the Senate regarding Logoai's selection.

Gaoteote explained that Sen. Nuanuaolefeagaiga Saoluaga Nua, who is the Senate President Pro-Temp and also chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, will not serve on the special committee because he is the second senator for Manu’a #1.

A recess was called and the meeting of the special committee lasted less than 10-minutes before they returned to announce their decision. Tuaolo said it is the committee’s belief that the decision by traditional leaders of Manu’a #1 was made in accordance with the law and Constitution, and submitted to the Senate.

Anything else, he added, is outside of the Senate’s realm or purview. Tuaolo then announced the committee’s decision to endorse Logoai’s selection, as presented by Manua #1.

After putting the committee’s recommendation to the full Senate for a vote, Gaoteote announced the Senate’s approval of Logoai as senator, which was followed by the swearing-in ceremony, attended by family members of the new senator.

The letters of objections to Logoai’s selection came from the traditional leaders of Ta’u and Faleasao.