28 May 2015

Samoa parlt passes contentious amendment

6:15 pm on 28 May 2015

Samoa's Parliament has passed a controversial amendment to constituency boundaries and also changed how the head of state is appointed.

Boundary changes were to be made a month ago under urgency but were referred to a parliamentary committee for more public consultation after a heated debate.

Further amendments were then proposed for the boundaries for Vaiumaga and Faleata to be extended into residential areas.

But the Minister in charge of the Electoral Commission, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa, who had proposed the original amendment could no longer support it.

She had told parliament that the advice of the Attorney General's office was this latest change did not meet the lawful requirements for constituencies.

Samoa parliament offices.

Samoa parliament offices. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

But five cabinet ministers and 14 associate ministers along with eleven opposition MPs supported the new amendment.

Meanwhile a more than two thirds majority in the 49 seat Parliament has supported a constitutional amendment to have the appointments of the head of state decided by the political party with the majority in parliament.

This change will also apply to the appointment of a speaker and a deputy speaker.