Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi

Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi (born 14 April 1945) is a Samoan politician who has been Prime Minister of Samoa since 1998.

Born at Lepa, Samoa, Malielegaoi is an economist by profession. He attended high school at St Joseph's College, Lotopa then obtained a master's from the University of Auckland, becoming the first Samoan to receive a master's degree in commerce.

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 Va'ai Kolone 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 Minister 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 nieces. Most of Malielegaoi's hometown of Lepa, Samoa, was destroyed in the tsunami, leaving just the church and the village's welcome sign standing.

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