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What party? I’m not a joker - Leala

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JOKER OR NO JOKER? Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi.

“Everything is well in our party,” he insisted. “People who break away from their party are unsettled and living in other people’s shadows. I can assure you that our party is progressing well”

The Whip for the Tautua Samoa Party, Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi, has rubbished reports about his involvement in a new political party, rumoured to be in the pipeline.

“If I want or if I’m to be involved in a new party, I would not hesitate to say it,” the Faleata West M.P. told the Sunday Samoan.

“But I’m not a joker,” he added.

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The Sunday Samoan contacted Lealailepule for a comment following reports alleging that he had made a joke during a recent Parliamentary trip to Australia about a new political party.

What exactly was said, cannot be confirmed.

But Leala’s leader in the Tautua Party, Palusalue confirmed that the rumours centered on a comment allegedly made by Leala during the trip in question.

The trip to Tasmania involved both members of the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P) and the Tautua Samoa Party. Led by the

Speaker of Parliament, La’auliolemalietoa Leuatea Polata’ivao, the visit was part of the Samoa Parliamentary Support Project, under the twinning programme known as Pacific Parliamentary Partnerships.

According to Palusalue, while in Australia, members of his party had met for a consultation with the Samoan community there when Leala made a passing joke about a new party.

“It was a joke and that is his way,” said Palusalue.

But Lealailepule denied he made such a joke.

“I don’t know who started the rumour but I don’t joke about things like that,” he said.

As for his political allegiance, Lealailepule reassured the Samoa Observer that he is the Whip of the Tautua Party and that’s where he belongs.

“Everything is well in our party,” he insisted. “People who break away from their party are unsettled and living in other people’s shadows. I can assure you that our party is progressing well.”

As a member of the Tautua, Leala said they have developed a reputation for being fearless when it comes to issues that have negative consequences on the country.

“I’m an independent guy and I do what I feel is right,” said Leala. “I read it (the rumour) in the paper and it seemed that it was someone from us (Tautua) and we were wondering who it was.

“So I’m not worried about the rumours at all.”

Asked if he would join a new political party if it emerges, Leala said no.

According to Talamua media, the new political party is under the leadership of “another former Minister.”

“The party according to circulating reports has some prominent business members backing them for the forthcoming general elections in 2016,” the website reported. The website had apparently also asked former Minister of Finance, Papali’i

Niko Lee Hang if he would join the party but he said no.

“I came into politics as an H.R.P.P. member and will go into the upcoming elections as an H.R.P.P. member,” Papali’i is quoted as saying. “I will never join them.”

Papali’i is one of two members of the H.R.P.P. government who have been extremely vocal against allegations of “corrupt practices” highlighted by the Controller and Chief Auditor, Fuimaono Camillo Afele.

An investigation by the Officers of Parliament Committee, of which Papali’i is a member, confirmed the allegations. The Committee also found instances of “collusion among public servants to defraud” taxpayers and in their report to Parliament, they recommended that legal action be taken against the public servants responsible.

The report was tabled before Parliament at the beginning of the year where Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s administration then had 90 days to respond.

That period has expired, with Speaker La’auli granting the government an “indefinite deadline” to respond. The matter is expected to be raised when Parliament sits before the end of the month.

Another H.R.P.P member, Tuu’u Anasi’i Leota had questioned the granting of the extension saying it should not have been given since Parliament was not in session when the extension was granted.

Earlier this year, the Associate Minister of Education, Sports and Culture also raised the idea of setting up a new political party. He later backtracked and said the comments, which led to the reports, were meant to be a “joke.”

In that vein, Leala joked that if the “so-called new party needs a leader, they can always make an application to me.”

 

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