5 Jul 2021

Samoa head of state's power to convene parliament questionable - Academic

5:50 pm on 5 July 2021

A New Zealand based Samoan academic has questioned the statement by Samoa's Head of State that only he has the power to call parliament to convene.

Tuimalealiifano Va'aletoa Sualauvi II

Tuimalealiifano Va'aletoa Sualauvi II Photo: Samoa govt

Last night the Head of State went against a Supreme Court ruling for parliament to meet by today at the latest.

The developments are the latest chapter of a political and constitutional crisis in Samoa which began after the elections in April.

The FAST party won the election by a slim majority but the rival HRPP remains in a caretaker role, insisting that the parliament must have six seats for women.

Only five women were elected and Tuimalealiifano said this has to be taken into account.

"The constitutionally guaranteed seat of the additional woman member in parliament in accordance with Article 44 (1A) of the constitution of Samoa has not been activated yet although the Court of Appeal has confirmed that a sixth woman member is mandatory."

Tuimalealiifano said because of the uncertainty over the seat, parliament cannot be convened now.

Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, left, and Fiame Naomi Mata'afa

Photo: RNZ Pacific / Tipi Autagavaia

He also said the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to order the convening of parliament, accusing the Court of showing flagrant disregard of the powers of the position of the Head of State.

Instead Tuimaleali'ifano Va'aletoa Sualauvi II decreed it should meet on Monday August 2nd.

But Auckland University law lecturer Fuimaono Dylan Asafo said under Samoa's constitution, the Head of State's power to call parliament is limited by time.

"So they don't have unfettered powers to call for the meeting of parliament whenever they see fit. The constitution limits that power quite specifically. So it is deeply ironic and troubling that they are now relying on the constitutional provision that they deliberately and purposefully violated to call for this new meeting in August."

HRPP loses another seat via electoral petition

The Human Rights Protection Party has lost another parliamentary seat through an electoral petition.

was for the Aleipata-Itupa-i-Lalo constituency.

The member-elect for the Aleipata-Itupa-i-Lalo constituency, Fiugalu Eteuati, was found guilty by the Supreme Court of bribery and treating.

The petition against Fiugalu was filed by a fellow HRPP election candidate, Tafua Maluelue Tafua.

The seat will now go to a by-election - the fourth resulting from the electoral petition process.

With the decision the HRPP is down to 21 seats while FAST maintains its 26.

Five counter petition charges which Fiugalu Eteuati had filed against the petitioner, Tafua Maluelue Tafua, were dismissed by the court.

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