22 Apr 2021

Legal difficulties over challenges from Samoa's FAST

4:17 pm on 22 April 2021

The lawyers for the FAST Party in Samoa have been forced to withdraw a Supreme Court challenge after discovering they had the wrong information.

They had wanted the rival HRPP winning candidate in the Fa'asaleleaga 5 constituency, Peseta Vaifou Tevagaena, declared ineligible to sit in parliament, because of a criminal conviction that hadn't been disclosed to the Electoral Commission.

But the lawyers today asked the Supreme Court to withdraw the challenge after realising they had had their wires crossed.

Samoa's Supreme Court

Samoa's Supreme Court Photo: RNZ Pacific / Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

Our correspondent, Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia, said the charges Peseta had faced carried penalties that would not have barred him from entering parliament.

"He was convicted of dangerous driving causing injuries but the maximum penalty for that is two years in jail or a fine. He was convicted and fined on that dangerous driving causing injury," he said.

Meanwhile FAST has been directed by the court to re-enter its submission challenging the appointment of a sixth woman to the new parliament.

Autagavaia said the judges told the FAST lawyers they need to specify the grounds for their challenge, they were also told by the judges to amend the motion and to include that.

"So that is another matter that needs to be tidied up, so hopefully by Monday next week we will have everything settled, we tidy up the house and begin the proceedings," he said.

FAST has asserted that with five women elected in the poll two weeks ago the constitutional provisions to have at least 10 percent of parliament's seats filled by women were satisfied.

The difficulty arises with the fractional increase in the size of parliament to 51 seats, meaning that those five women only constitute 9.8 percent of the seats.