Samoan PM thinks his party will win general election

Samoa's prime minister expressed confidence that his ruling Human Rights Protection Party will extend its 24-year hold on power in Friday's general election.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, 55, who has held the post since 1998, told local media Thursday that he expects to be returned for a seventh term as a lawmaker and that his party should win 35 seats in the South Pacific nation's 49-seat parliament.

His party currently holds 22 seats and, with the support of independent lawmakers, has a 34-vote bloc in parliament.

With a healthy economy that enjoyed a solid 6 percent growth last year, Samoa is seen by some observers as a beacon of stability in a region where several small island states struggle for survival.

"He's pretty cocky and he's dismissing any suggestions" that the party could lose the election, Samoa Observer newspaper news editor Keni Lesa told The Associated Press from the capital, Apia.

But the main opposition Samoa Democratic United Party, led by Le Mamea Ropati, also believes it has a "serious chance" of being able to form a government after the poll, Lesa said.

Informal polling by the newspaper in villages initially showed the Samoa Democratic United Party as the preferred choice of a majority of voters, but in recent weeks the ruling party has emerged as the frontrunner, he said, reports the AP.


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