Monday, February 14, 2011

How it works in Samoa

A country is having an election, but there's a problem. The law states that all candidates must have their nomination form endorsed by a public official. But those officials - who tend to be members of the party which has ruled for the past 25 years - are refusing to sign the nominations of opposition candidates.

No, its not Uzbekistan, or some other Central Asian despotism. This is happening right in our own backyard, in Samoa. And its just par for the course there - other tricks include trying to sack public servants who run against the government, manipulating Parliamentary rules to prevent the recognition of opposition parties, then kicking out MPs when they combine to form a new party large enough to be recognised, and good old-fashioned corruption, bribing voters and denying basic public services to electorates who vote for opposition candidates.

This is how the Human Rights Protection Party has stayed in power for 25 years - by cheating. By abusing the process. By denying its citizens one of their most basic human rights: the right to choose their own government.

This isn't acceptable, and our government should be saying so.