29 Apr 2020

Samoa's PM and Deputy PM face off in the House

10:47 am on 29 April 2020

A rift has developed between the leaders of the Samoa government.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi chided Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa for apparently criticizing a bill tabled during Tuesday's sitting of Parliament.

Tuilaepa also suggested that Fiame hand in her resignation as well as firing a warning to any other dissenting members of his Cabinet that they should also resign.

Samoa PM Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi addresses the UN session in Apia

Samoa PM Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi addresses the UN session in Apia Photo: UN

The verbal stoush happened after Fiame made a comment critical of part of an Electoral Law amendment bill rushed through the one day session.

Tuilaepa felt that once a matter had gone through Cabinet then all Ministers should not voice criticism in the House.

He said it was a collective responsibility of members to support what Cabinet had approved.

Tuilaepa said the bill had been through the committee stages which gave a chance for people to make submissions.

"Why didn't you take your comments to the committee, or raise it in Cabinet?" Tuilaepa asked his deputy.

Samoa's Deputy Prime Minister, FIame Naomi Mata'afa.

Samoa's Deputy Prime Minister, FIame Naomi Mata'afa. Photo: RNZ/Daniela Maoate-Cox

Fiame told the House she was making a point and not being critical of the proposed amendment as it affected voters.

It was when Tuilaepa told the House that when a new law was introduced "the devil" was always there to criticise - that Fiame took offence.

"Are you saying Tuilaepa that I am standing here as the devil?," she questioned.

Tuilaepa then said, "Any of my ministers who do not agree, they know what they have to do".

The Samoa Observer newspaper, asked Fiame after the session if she would resign, she replied "No. He didn't choose me; I was appointed by our party."

The Cabinet will meet for its weekly meeting today and it is expected the matter will be raised again.