Western District Governor selection still unresolved
Although Western District titular traditional leader, Paramount Chief Satele Galu Satele Sr., who is also a senator, appointed Tualatai traditional leader Tuiasina S. Esera as the new Western District Governor, it appears the matter remains unresolved as there was a meeting held yesterday at the Office of Samoan Affairs attended by Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga.
As reported by Samoa News, a meeting of Western District traditional leaders was held Monday this week at Satele’s Guest House at Vailoatai but a consensus couldn’t be reached so it was left up to Satele to appoint the new district governor from Tualatai county.
Samoa News was present at the meeting, and afterwards Satele told the Samoa News reporter that he had appointed Tuiasina, who is a former Tualatai senator, and noted at the time that the main thing ‘is that a selection is made’. (See Samoa News edition Apr. 25 for the English and Samoan stories).
However, it appears the issue of the choice for the new Western district governor is yet to be resolved, as there was a special meeting yesterday morning at Samoan Affairs between the governor and Secretary of Samoan Affairs Mauga Tasi Asuega, along with deputy secretary of Samoan Affairs, Malemo Tausaga and Manu’a District Governor Laolagi F.S. Vaeao.
Samoa News learned that the meeting with the governor followed efforts by the Tualatai county chief (or fa’alupega) to get a sufficient number of signatures from traditional leaders of Western District counties, which he was not able to do. Only five signed, according to information received by Samoa News, which should also point out that the law is silent on how many signatures are required and who is required to sign the certification document.
Speaking with Samoa News after the meeting, Malemo said that Samoan Affairs leaders — referring to himself, Mauga and Laolagi — have given the governor their recommendation or “fautuaga” pertaining to this matter. Malemo however declined to disclose their recommendation to the governor.
Asked if the decision by Satele appointing Tuiasina has been voided, Malemo responded, that there is no decision to void Satele’s appointment of Tuiasina and there is also no decision calling for Tualatai county traditional leaders to meet to select a person for Western District Governor post.
He stressed that Samoan Affairs leaders had presented to the governor their recommendation, following an earlier meeting just between Mauga, Laolagi and Malemo.
Asked what the governor’s response was to the recommendation, Malemo said the governor plans to table the matter at this time, until after government officials — including the governor — return later next week from Ofu, Manu’a for the dedication of the ASG Executive Office Building and the American Samoa Power Authority Ofu Solar Park projects set for next week Thursday.
Several traditional leaders and others from Tualatai county say they were surprised to read the Samoa News story — in English and Samoan — on Tuesday, where Satele had appointed Tuiasina and there was never any mention of such an appointment during or after the Western District meeting held Monday. There were also no Tualatai country traditional leaders meeting called to discuss the selection.
One Tualatai traditional leader, who asked not be identified because of the contentiousness of this matter, told Samoa News that the public should be aware that Tualatai county traditional leaders never held a meeting, nor was a traditional meeting called — to decide who from Tualatai would take over the post of Western District Governor.
Additionally, the Monday meeting outcome was that it was left up to Tualatai county to make the decision, not for Satele to make the decision.
Local law states in part that, there shall be a district governor for each of the three districts of American Samoa — Manu’a, Western, and Eastern districts. The governor appoints the district governor after the governor receives and considers the recommendations of the respective local district councils, as to who should be appointed for their districts.
To be eligible for appointment as a district governor, a person must be: a national of the United States; and a leading matai of the district for which he is to be appointed, who has maintained his ‘monotaga’ (or traditional family contribution) and who is a bona fide resident of that district.
The post of district governor is a four-year term.