26 Jul 2021

Tuilaepa admits defeat after Head of State's declaration

11:55 am on 26 July 2021

Samoa's former prime minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has finally conceded defeat in the 9 April election.

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

Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, left, and Fiame Naomi Mata'afa. Photo: RNZ Pacific / Tipi Autagavaia

During a TV interview on Sunday night he said he looked forward to working with the new Faʻatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) government.

Tuilaepa said he has asked Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata'afa to give him and his government seven days to move out of his office.

Even at the end of last week Tuilaepa was refusing to concede that he lost the election.

The concession followed the Head of State Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi congratulating Fiame, who is now the first female prime minister of Samoa and her FAST party.

In a televised statement, Tuimalealiifano called on the convening of Parliament so all elected members can be sworn in.

Tuimalealiifano defended himself and said what has been said about him is not easy to take.

"I humbly declare that I do understand the duties of the head of state, especially in relation to the courts because I worked as a police officer, I also worked in the office of the attorney general. I also worked as a lawyer, and it has been 53 years since I have worked and served the government," he declared.

He said he was receiving advice from the office of the attorney general and senior lawyers in Samoa.

"I also understand customs and traditions of Samoa because I have been a matai for over 40 years; I am a Tama-a-Aiga serving my family and village."

Tuimalealiifano said he was saddened by part of the decision that states he did not understand the powers of the office of the head of state, and the powers of the courts.

Tuimalealiifano said the role of the head of state was not just ceremonial as stated in the decision, but one that had been active during the state of emergency in signing off on SOE orders, and now also in approving government budget spending during the political crisis.

The prime ministers of New Zealand and Australia, Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison, congratulated Fiame on becoming Samoa's new leader.

The new Samoan Government is expected to call parliament this week, possibly on Wednesday.

The new cabinet spent much of the weekend in meetings.

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