The Swains Island delegate in the American Samoa House of Representatives has been given the right to vote.
Previously, the Swains delegate only voted in Committee, but did not have a voice when bills were voted on.
This amendment was not pre-approved for the Constitutional Convention, but during the meeting, Swains faipule Su’a Alex Jennings made an impassioned plea to delegates for Swains to have voting privileges in the House.
Photo: Visit Pago Pago
He said the move would place this part of American Samoa on an equal footing with the rest of the territory.
Ituau delegate Taotasi Archie Soliai said while he supported a Swains vote, the law would need looking at, as the Swains faipule is not elected by popular vote, like the rest of the districts, but selected.
The motion to give Swains Island voting power was approved by a vote of 73-43.
These and other amendments will be on the ballot at the general elections on November 8.
Swains Island is a remote coral atoll that is geographically part of the Tokelau Islands.
According to Wikipedia, the United States has administered it as part of American Samoa since 1925.
Privately owned by the family of Eli Hutchinson Jennings since 1856, Swains Island was used as a copra plantation until 1967.
It has not been permanently inhabited since 2008 but has often been visited by members of the Jennings family, scientific researchers, and amateur radio operators.
Our American Samoa correspondent said the vote represents Swain Island descendants living on the main island, Tutuila.
The island is located 180km south of the Tokelau atoll of Fakaofo.
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