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Governor and Congressman head to Apia for Samoa’s Silver Jubilee

Gov. Togiola Tulafono departed yesterday for Apia to participate in Samoa’s Silver Jubilee Independence celebration, which is also being attended by Congressman Faleomavaega Eni as a member of the United States government delegation.

Before he departed the territory, the governor appointed Attorney General Fepuleai A. Ripley Jr., as acting governor and this “appointment shall terminate upon the Lt. Governor’s or my own return to the territory, whichever occurs first,” Togiola said in a May 29 memo. There was no word yesterday as to where the Lt. Governor is.

Also traveling with the governor are Secretary of Samoan Affairs Lefiti A. Pese and Deputy Secretary of Samoan Affairs Nanai Afuola.

Several local residents are in Apia, or will be there soon to participate in the celebration as part of local groups representing American Samoa. Many others will be there to witness this 50-year celebration marking Samoa’s independence in 1962.

A White House statement released yesterday says that President Barack Obama has appointed a United States delegation to the Samoa Independence Day, and the delegation is headed by David Huebner, the U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa.

Members of the delegation are Faleomavaega, who is the former Chairman and current Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific; James L. Loi, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State; and Admiral Cecil D. Haney, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, U.S. Navy, according to the White House.

The 50th Independence Committee program for the celebration shows that yesterday (May 31st Samoa time) called for a church service to open the official Independence Celebration and an Ava Ceremony.

(Samoa News reminds our readers that Samoa is a day ahead of American Samoa.)

June 1 is the official start of the celebration at Ti’afau in Apia with the opening prayer, the official address by Samoa’s Head of State, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, followed by the flag raising ceremony, then the march, or parade in review.

Thereafter is the government-sponsored luncheon, followed by entertainment and cultural performances according to the program, which didn’t say which groups or villages will provide cultural performances. Also on the schedule is the traditional gift presentation, government banquet, launch of a documentary celebrating 50 years of independence and the fireworks display that includes the UB-40 concert.

A lowering of the flags marks the last day of the celebration, which is June 5. Complete details of the daily activities are available on the organizing committee’s website:

Samoa News is providing both stories and photo coverage of the Independence Celebration starting tomorrow.