14 Sep 2021

Barricades up as Samoa parliament meets

9:59 am on 14 September 2021

For the first time in the 59 years of Samoan independence, the Parliament grounds have been barricaded for a session of the House.

Samoa Barricade

Samoa Barricade Photo: supplied

The barricades went up late last night after police put out a public notice declaring Parliament building and surrounding grounds out of bounds for all members of the public.

This follows an earlier press release from the office of the Speaker, Papali'i Ta'eu Masipa'u, banning all uninvited members of the public from attending the session this morning.

In a letter to the HRPP on Monday 13 September, Papali'i said a decision had been made not to allow an expected swearing in ceremony for them when the House convenes today.

He wrote that it was still evident from a recent letter from HRPP, as well as what was said at a Party meeting last Friday, that HRPP still had not accepted or recognized the Faatuatua I Le Atua Samoa ua Tasi government as sworn in 24 May, 2021.

Samoa Police at the barricade

Samoa Police at the barricade Photo: Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

At a press conference yesterday afternoon opposition leader Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said that if they had not accepted the FAST government, they would not have left their offices.

"We are still within our rights to criticise the government as a party in opposition," he added.

He said all 25 elected HRPP members would be attending Parliament today along with families and members of their districts to escort their elected members to their swearing in with drums.

Eight of those elected HRPP members have since lost their seats in the electoral petition process.

HRPP opposition members locked out of Samoa Parliament

HRPP opposition members locked out of Samoa Parliament Photo: Supplied

This prompted Speaker Papali'i to issue the blanket ban on the public except all government heads of ministries and statutory bodies along with accredited media.

Samoa Police then moved to enforce the Speaker's ban by also issuing a public notice to the same effect and erecting barricades at Tiafau, Mulinu'u.

Tuilaepa yesterday said it was likely that the Faatuatua I le Atua Samoa ua Tasi government would try to push the expected national budget through at this one session as there will be no opposition.

He warned that this would be unconstitutional as there would not be enough numbers to make up a legitimate quorum for Parliament to sit.

"When the speaker takes his seat, he cannot be counted as part of the quorum," he said.