WikiLeaks cable: Samoan Government: New Zealand and Australia assess Cabinet

Photo / Mark Mitchell
Photo / Mark Mitchell

May 18, 2005
Samoan Government: New Zealand and Australia assess cabinet

date:2006-05-18T05:05:00
source:Embassy Wellington
origin:06WELLINGTON384
destination:VZCZCXYZ0005 RR RUEHWEB DE RUEHWL #0384/01 1380505 ZNY
CCCCC ZZH R 180505Z MAY 06 FM AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON TO RUEHC/SECSTATE
WASHDC 2795 INFO RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 4412 RUEHSV/AMEMBASSY SUVA
0460 RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
classification:CONFIDENTIAL
reference:06APIA40|06WELLINGTON253
?C O N F I D E N T I A L WELLINGTON 000384

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/FO AND EAP/ANP
PACOM FOR JO1E/J2/J233/J5/SJFHQ

E.O. 12...
?C O N F I D E N T I A L WELLINGTON 000384

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/FO AND EAP/ANP
PACOM FOR JO1E/J2/J233/J5/SJFHQ

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/17/2016
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, NZ, WS
SUBJECT: SAMOAN GOVERNMENT: NEW ZEALAND AND AUSTRALIA
ASSESS CABINET

REF: A. APIA 40
B. WELLINGTON 253

Classified by Charge d'Affaires David R. Burnett. Reasons:
1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary: Officials for New Zealand's Ministry of
Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and the Australia High
Commission in Wellington continue to follow closely the
implications of Samoa's March 31 general election. Both
recognize the potential for improved governance following the
announcement of Cabinet assignments on April 21, but are
concerned about the law and order portfolios. End Summary.

2. (U) Samoa's Electoral Commissioner on April 13 announced
official polling results from Samoa's March 31 general
election. The Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) retained
control of government by gaining 35 of the 49 seats. The
Samoan Democratic United Party (SDUP) holds ten seats, with
the remaining four seats going to independents. On April 21
the GOS announced Cabinet assignments (see ref A).

3. (C) Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi
appointed five new ministers, former Speaker Toleafoa Apulu
Faafisi, Niko Lee Hang, new female MP Gatoloaifaana Amataga
Alesana Gidlow, Unasa Mesi Galo and Taua Tavaga Kitiona
Seuala. Two former ministers, Palusalue Faapo II
(Communications and Information Technology) and Hans Joachim
Keil (Commerce, Industry and Labor), were not re-appointed to
Cabinet. MFAT says that in Keil's case, there had been
speculation that his reduced electoral support in the
two-seat Individual Voters constituency would work against
his inclusion in Cabinet. MFAT also believes Kiel was
affected negatively by press on Samoa's WTO accession
proceedings, published proximate to the election.

4. (C) The former ministers of justice and police were not
reelected, and both MFAT and the High Commission expressed
particular concern about the law and justice sector,
especially basic law enforcement capabilities and the ability
to prosecute criminal cases and bring them to trial.
Controversial former Speaker Toleafoa Apulu Faafisi
(Toleafoa) is now Minister for Police, Prisons and Fire
Services. According to the Australians, key Apia-based
sources describe Toleafoa's appointment as disappointing.
During the last term of government, Toleafoa was regularly
accused of favoring the Government during his time as
Speaker, resulting in a complaint by SDUP Deputy Leader
Asiata Saleimoa Vaai to the International Parliamentary
Union. A longtime HRPP stalwart, Toleafoa was more recently
accused of using heavy-handed tactics at the village level
during the election, according to MFAT. Neither MFAT nor
Australia expect Toleafoa to perform strongly and it is
likely the Prime Minister will directly oversee key aspects
of the portfolio. The absence of a capable minister in the
portfolio may impede the reform process.

5. (C) Deputy Prime Minister Misa Telefoni Retzlaff lost the
prestigious Cabinet post of Finance Minister to Niko Lee
Hang, who topped the poll in the 2006 election in the
Individual Voters candidacy. While somewhat surprising that
Lee Hang was elevated to this leading position, his
assignment reflects the confidence that PM Tuilaepa places on
his accounting and business qualifications, according to
MFAT. Lee Hang is a chartered accountant. The Deputy Prime
Minister picked up the Trade and Tourism portfolio.

6. (C) After holding the education, sports and culture
portfolio for fifteen years, Fiame Naomi Mataafa was
appointed as Minister for Women, Community and Social
Development. The prior minister retired from Parliament.
Fiame is well-regarded locally and has considerable
influence, but MFAT says the women's affairs portfolio is
significantly under-funded and effective progress will be
challenging. Fiame is also responsible for the Public
Service Commission and the Ombudsman's Office. The
Australian High Commission sees Fiame's appointment as a
positive outcome for public sector reform and good governance
objectives.

7. (C) The only other woman Cabinet minister, new MP
Gatoloaifaana Amataga Alesana Gidlow (Gatoloai), was
appointed Minister of Health. Replacing the controversial
former Health Minister and current Party Whip Mulitalo
Sealiimalietoa Siafausa Vui, Gatoloai is the daughter of
former Prime Minister Tofilau Eti. The Australians described
the reassignment of Mulitalo as another positive move for

governance. Mulitalo remains the subject of persist rumors
that he played a leading role in ongoing corruption scandals
in the Health Ministry. According to the Australian High
Commission, Mulitalo's appointment as Minister for
Communication and Information Technology is drawing valid
criticism that HRPP's abuse of the government-owned media is
likely to continue.

8. (SBU) Faumuina Tiatia Ligua was moved from the esteemed
public works portfolio to the natural resources and
environment portfolio. In his previous role as Public Works
Minister, he ironically was often in confrontation with the
Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

9. (C) Comment: Samoa is as the Kiwis are fond of saying, "a
bright spot in the Pacific." But as their and the
Australians' analyses show, the country will have its share
of challenges in the months ahead. End Comment.
Burnett

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