Samoa Prime Minister elect has approved the resignation of her Minister elect for the Environment and Tourism, Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster after he was charged with drink driving offence on Tuesday last week.
The Prime Minister elect Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa announced that she has accepted Toeolesulusulu’s decision that was prompted by his respect for the rule of law and the protection of the integrity of the office, a press release said.
Fiamē said she respects Toeolesulusulu’s decision and based on the principle that the accused is innocent until proven guilty, he remains a Member of Parliament and that the member has the Party’s full support as he follows the process to clear his good name in the court of law.
Meanwhile, Tonga Prime Minister Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa has come under fire after he announced he will not dismiss his convicted fraudster Infrastructure Minister Akosita Lavulavu and his convicted Ha’apai Governor Viliami Manuopangai Hingano.
The Supreme Court has found Akosita and her ousted husband former Cabinet Minister and MP Etuate Lavulavu guilty of defrauding $558,00 of government school funding grants.
‘Etuate, 62, and Akosita, 36, were charged with knowingly dealing with forged documents and obtaining credit by false pretenses, after irregularities in an audit of the ‘Unuaki ‘o Tonga Royal Institute in 2016. Akosita was the director of the school while ‘Etuate was the president.
The couple are set to be sentenced on July 2.
Tu’i’onetoa told media yesterday that Akosita would stay in office until the 42-day appeal process was complete.
Tu’ionetoa again used the controversial Clause 23 of the constitution to defend his refusal to take immediate action against Akosita.
The Prime Minister told Kaniva News and other media in an e-mail that Clause 23 was re-enacted in 2013 and signed by the king to protect the right of the individuals, government clerks and senior officers who were accused and taken to court.
It was the same pathetic excuse he used to defend his refusal to take immediate action against the governor.
Tu’i’onetoa failed to mention that clause 51 of the constitution has given him an exclusive power to sack a Cabinet Minister at his pleasure whether they were innocent, convicted or at the centre of an allegation.
In convicting the governor last month after he was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of 198 kg of turtle meat , the Supreme Court judge said:
“Having heard the accused‘s background, he being a director in the Ministry of Public Enterprises, and he had been a member of Parliament representing District 12 of Ha’apai which included Lofanga, and having grown up and living in Ha’apai, I do not believe his evidence that he did not know that an approval was required before a turtle was killed”.
The governor was fined TOP$12,500.