API (ABC) — Samoans will head to the polls in a matter of weeks to elect their government – but only if they are physically in the country.

This means some residents, who have been unable to return to Samoa due to COVID restrictions, will miss out.

It has re-opened the debate as to who exactly should be allowed to vote.

Christina Laala’ai Tausa is a New Zealand-based political analyst and believes voting should be opened up to citizens who live outside Samoa.

“One of those tenets of democracy being inclusive citizenship, and people living overseas have still not been able to vote, despite making a contribution of nearly 50 per cent of the Samoan economy annually,” Laala’ai Tausa said.

“It also helps to keep to our members of parliament accountable, because most of the moving and the shaking that’s happening now towards the elections is happening from outside and now local people are starting to see that.”

Any rules as to how this would work would be based on what other Pacific island countries were doing, she added.

Tuiasau Uelese Petaia is standing for election under the Human Rights Protection Party and says although there are positives in allowing the overseas vote, there are more negatives at the moment.

“Everyone knows there are more Samoans living overseas than there are living in Samoa and we’d get a situation where the government of the day is voted in by people who are not actually living in the country.”

“Right now, under the current laws, anyone who is a Samoan living overseas can come and register and be able to vote,” Tuiasau said.

But you have to vote in country….. PACNEWS

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