Regional

Samoa Court Nulls Head Of State Order

Fiame Naomi Mata’afa and FAST set to form Government today.
24 May 2021 10:52
Samoa Court Nulls Head Of State Order
Members of the FAST party and supporters remain outside under marquees that had previously been set up for the swearing-in of Parliament today. Photo: Samoa Observer

The order by Samoa’s Head of State, His Highness Tuimalealiifano Va’aletoa Sualauvi II, to suspend the country’s first parliament sitting today was yesterday ruled “unlawful” by the Supreme Court.

On Saturday night, Tuimalealiifano had issued a shock writ calling for the suspension of Parliament, without stating any reasons.

The Head of State’s decision placed Samoa’s democratic process in limbo.

The swearing-in of Fiame Naomi Mata’afa as the first woman Prime Minister of Samoa was also hanging by a thread.

However, quick legal action by Fiame and her FAST party again solidified the rule of law.

FAST or Fa’atuatua ile Atua Samoa ua Tasi (Faith in the One True God) filed a motion in the Supreme Court yesterday morning to overturn the order by the Head of State.

This matter was presided by the country’s Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese; Justice Vui Clarence Nelson and Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala- Warren.

During the urgent hearing, the Attorney-General, Savalenoa Mareva Betham-Annandale, walked out of court.

Savalenoa has pressed the case of caretaker Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and his long governing Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP).

Savalenoa is seen as strongly pro- HRPP.

One thing is certain, the Supreme Court ruled the Head of State’s actions were a clear violation of the country’s Constitution.

And in a span of six days, this is the second time that the Supreme Court had overruled the Head of State’s decisions.

Following yesterday’s court ruling, Tuimalealiifano is reported to have departed his official Vailele residence and returned to his village of Matautu-Falelatai – a two-hour drive from Apia.

He was escorted by a Police contingent for his “safety”.

RNZ correspondent Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia said road access to the village was now blocked.

Today, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa should be sworn-in as the country’s first woman Prime Minister – also a first for the Pacific region.

FAST would lead Samoa, ending the 22-year reign of Tuilaepa.

HRPP has been in power since 1982.

Critics have said Samoa has become a one-party state under HRPP and Tuilaepa.

FAST, under the leadership of Fiame, provides the much needed change many Samoans have wanted.

And with the seeming end of weeks of political shenanigans, Fiame is set to return Samoa back to the rule of law that was “slipping away” under the leadership of the HRPP.

Screenshot 2021-05-24 at 10.40.46 AM

Background 

Samoa’s political drama started with FAST’s shock win in the April 9 general election.

The party won a one-seat majority over the ruling HRPP.

Tuilaepa had led the HRPP to four general election wins.

He’s been at the helm since 1998, making him the second longest serving Prime Minister in the world. Following a slim win over the HRPP, FAST was open to forming Government.

But the Head of State had called for a snap election Friday week after the Electoral Commissioner had announced the appointment of a sixth woman Member of Parliament creating a deadlock.

Both these decisions were overruled as unconstitutional by the country’s Supreme Court last week Monday.

Now the court has done so again.

All eyes will be on the Parliamentary Fono in Apia today.

Will there be another surprise as Tuilaepa and his HRPP try to cling to power?

Screenshot 2021-05-24 at 10.40.58 AM

Update:

As of this morning, the FAST party members are being locked out of Parliament, with heavy Police presence around the Parliament premises in Mulinu’u, Apia.

Members of the FAST party and supporters remain outside under marquees that had previously been set up for the swearing-in of Parliament today.

Feedback: ivamere.nataro@fijisun.com.fj



Got A News Tip


Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.


By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.


WEET BIX
For All Fiji Sun Advertising
Fijisun E-edition
Subscribe-to-Newspaper