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Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi

Assumed office 
23 November 1998
President Malietoa Tanumafili II
Tufuga Efi
Preceded by Tofilau Eti Alesana

Born 14 April 1945 (1945-04-14) (age 64)
Lepa, Samoa
Political party HRPP
Spouse(s) Gillian Muriel Malielegaoi
Religion Roman Catholic

Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi (born 14 April 1945 in Lepa, Samoa) is a Samoan politician and the current Prime Minister of Samoa since 1998.



Malielegaoi is an economist by profession. He obtained a master's from the University of Auckland, becoming the first Samoan to receive a master's degree in commerce.[1]

He worked for the European Economic Community and Coopers & Lybrand before being elected to the Samoan parliament in 1980.

Tuilaepa was the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance under Tofilau Eti Alesana following the Human Rights Protection Party's return to power after the coalition government of Vaai and Tupua. For a while he was both Prime Minister and Minister of Finance after Tofialu stepped down from the Premiership. However, following a Cabinet reshuffle after the following elections in which he led the HRPP for an additional term, Tuilaepa relinquished the post of Minister of Finance to Misa Telefoni Retzlaff who also became the new Deputy Prime Minister.

The reason given for Tuilaepa's relinquishment of the Ministry of Finance was the amount of responsibility and work involved being both Prime Minister and Minster of Finance and to do the job properly required a full time Minister. Tuilaepa has twice reassigned the Finance portfolio since that time.

Malielegaoi lost two relatives in the 2009 Samoan earthquake and tsunami, including the daughter of one of his neices. [2] Most of Malielegaoi's hometown of Lepa, Samoa, was destroyed in the tsunami, leaving just the church and the village's welcome sign standing.[3]


Tuilaepa's government has passed highly controversial legislation to switch Samoan road use from right to left-hand drive.[4][5] The controversy resulted in a peaceful demonstration which drew more than 15,000 people, the largest protest demonstration in Samoan history[4], and to the founding of the People's Party, a political party established to protest against changing sides[6][7].

Opposition to Fiji's Bainimarama

Tuilaepa has emerged as one of Oceania's most vocal critics of Fijian interim leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama, who came to power in the 2006 Fijian coup d'état. Tuilaepa has stated that Bainimarama has shown little respect for the opinions of regional Pacific leaders.[8] Tuilaepa has said that Bainimarama's actions since the 2006 coup have shown that Bainimarama has no intentions of returning Fiji to democratic rule or holding transparent, free elections.[8] Tuilaepa cites numerous actions by Bainimarama to back up his criticisims, including rescinding assurances to leaders at a regional meeting in Tonga that elections would be held in May 2008.[8] He has also criticized Bainimarama as a "no-show" at regional meetings of the Pacific Islands Forum in Niue and Papua New Guinea.[8] Tuileapa has said that Bainimarama's failure to compromise, hold democratic elections and meet with regional leaders is not the "Pacific way."[8]

In a February 2009 continuation of the war of words between Bainimarama and Tuilaepa, Commodore Bainimarama accused Samoa's foreign policy of being dictated by New Zealand.[8] He also accused Tuilaepa of being "un-Pacific".[8] Tuilaepa fired back, questioning whether Bainimarama was sober when he made these claims and reiterating that Bainimarama shows little respect for Pacific leaders.[8]

Sporting aspirations

Prime Minister Tuilaepa competed for his country at the 2007 South Pacific Games in the sport of target archery.[9] In participating in the Games, the Prime Minister became the first elected leader to represent his country at a multi-sport event.

Having taken up the sport only five months prior to the Games, Tuilaepa was ranked second in Samoa in the combined bow discipline. The Prime Minister's son was also a reserve team member.[9]

On day 10 of the Games, Tuilaepa won a silver medal in the mixed recurve team play event.[10]

External links


  1. ^ "The Hon. Tuilaepa Malielegaoi". University of Auckland School of Business. Retrieved 2009-10-05.  
  2. ^ Ah Mu, Alan (2009-10-01). "PM lost two relatives". Samoa Observer. Retrieved 2009-10-05.  
  3. ^ McClean, Tamara (2009-10-02). "Searching ruins for reason to live after the tsunami". The Daily Telegraph (Australia). Retrieved 2009-10-05.  
  4. ^ a b "Samoa provokes fury by switching sides of the road", The Telegraph, July 3, 2009
  5. ^ "Right-to-left driving switch upsets Samoans", ABC Radio Australia, August 12, 2008
  6. ^ "Right-to-left driving switch upsets Samoans", ABC Radio Australia, August 12, 2008
  7. ^ "People’s Party to elect leaders", Samoa Observer, November 9, 2008
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h "Samoa’s Prime Minister again challenges Fiji’s interim Prime Minister". Radio New Zealand International. 2009-03-01. Retrieved 2009-03-02.  
  9. ^ a b Samoa PM draws bow for his country from the New Zealand Herald, 18 August 2007
  10. ^ "Samoa PM wins archery silver". ABC Radio Australia. Retrieved 2007-09-06.  
Political offices
Preceded by
Tofilau Eti Alesana
Prime Minister of Samoa


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