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Governor officially calls for Political Status Office to prepare for ConCon 2022

Gov. Lemanu Peleti Palepoi Sialega Mauga

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Through an Oct. 5th executive order, Gov. Lemanu Peleti Palepoi Sialega Mauga directed ASG’s Office of Political Status, Constitutional Review and Federal Relations — referred to by many as the Political Status Office (PSO) — to prepare for the Constitutional Convention next year 2022.

A specific time-frame or month was cited in the order of when it will be held while $1.37 million to fund the Constitutional Convention is included in the government’s fiscal year 2022 supplemental bill of $12.65 million already signed into law last month. The funds include paying for personnel, supplies and contractual services.

The governor’s executive order noted that the last review of the territory’s Constitution was in 2010 and in light of ever changing conditions, including a global pandemic; a Constitutional Convention is both timely and warranted.

The order points out that the ASG’s PSO was created in 2016 for the purpose of researching and developing constitutional as well as political status issues and public education, communications and civil disclosure.

Therefore, the governor directed the PSO to prepare for the 2022 Constitutional Convention through research, public engagement, and logistical support and prepare and support a Mock Constitutional Convention in coordination with the local Education Department and other government agencies.

Furthermore, coordinate with the ASG Treasury Department to assure full and accurate accounting of all funds budgeted and expended for the Constitutional Convention, according to the order, which is effective immediately and repeals a 2009 order, which deals with the Constitutional Convention in 2010.

Over the years several lawmakers and traditional leaders as well as others in the community had called on the Lolo Administration for a Constitutional Convention to address many issues including American Samoa’s political status with the United States.

Earlier this year, Tuipine Fuimaono said he hoped that the new Lemanu Administration would call a Constitutional Convention this year, as there was none last year and that’s probably due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

He said there are many important issues that need to be addressed and put to the public to vote on, via referendum.

Meanwhile, the FY 2022 budget includes $200,000 under the Governor's Special Programs to go to the ASG PSO for public awareness programs.

"It is in the best interest of all American Samoans that our way of life and identity should reflect in our governing political status," according to the funding description in the Governor's "Executive Summary" FY 2022 Budget report.

"There is still a segment of our population that do not fully understand our governing covenant and the issue of being an unincorporated territory," it says adding that this funding will offset operational costs associated with outreach and educational programs provided to the community.