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Race for House Speaker is on — Savali appears to be shoo-in

House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale appears to have the majority on his side, meaning he'll most likely be re-elected to the House leadership post when faipule for the 36th Legislature are sworn in Jan. 3rd.

The swearing-in ceremony usually commences around noon for the 21-member House of Representatives. Thereafter, the 20-elected House members proceed to vote for the next Speaker. (The Swains Island delegate does not vote on the floor, which includes the vote for Speaker).

Based on information received by Samoa News, as of last Friday afternoon, Savali is poised to be re-elected, with a 16-member majority pull that includes both incumbents and faipule-elect.

A group of four — which includes one incumbent and three faipule-elect — have not joined the majority, maintaining the stance they took since election, that “it's time for a change", according to information received by Samoa News.

The group has already decided on their candidate to nominate for House Speaker.

While the four members have nothing against Savali, they believe there should be accountability in the Fono when it comes to addressing issues, legislation and other important matters presented by the Executive Branch for lawmakers to review and consider. 

This is according to individuals who are either relatives or constituents of the four-members who spoke with Samoa News, last Friday and over the weekend.

Samoa News notes that Savali — who has been faipule for Alataua County since 1981 — was unchallenged during the Speaker’s vote on Jan. 3, 2017, when faipule for the previous 35th Legislature were sworn in following the 2016 general election.

Savali went in, at the time, fully supported by all faipule and in turn, each lawmaker was assigned to chair various House standing committees.

It has been the usual pattern over the years that those who support the elected Speaker get a chairmanship in standing committees; while those who don’t get only to sit as a member for either one or two committees.

Besides voting on a Speaker, the House will also elect the House chief clerk and sergeant-at-arms, according to the local Constitution.