6 Mar 2011

Samoa's ruling party retains power with reduced majority

1:24 am on 6 March 2011

Samoa's Human Rights Protection Party has been returned to power in the country's general election, but with a smaller majority.

The party, which has governed Samoa for almost 30 years, can count on having 35 seats, including some independent support.

Caretaker Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi was elected unopposed.

Close to 90% of the country's registered voters turned out to elect 49 MPs and vote counting continued past midnight.

The opposition Tautua Samoa Party took 14 seats.

It will be negotiating with independents to get 17 opposition MPs, to stop the Government having the two-thirds majority required to change the constitution.

A final count will take up to two weeks and could affect some seats, including that of the leader of Tautua Samoa Va'ai Papu Vailupe, who held his seat by only 25 votes.