FAST holds seat in latest Samoan electoral challenge
Apia, SAMOA — The Supreme Court in Samoa has dismissed an electoral challenge against the winner of the Faasaleleaga No. 2 seat.
This means FAST's Magele Sekati Faaui remains as the seat's MP-elect.
The Samoa Observer reports the Chief Justice, Satiu Simativa Perese, delivered the decision dismissing the petition from Gatoloaifaana Amataga Gidlow and the counter suit filed by Magele following the April election.
Magele was accused of six allegations of bribery and treating while Gatoloai was facing five complaints of bribery and treating.
Meanwhile the FAST is seeking a clarification of the way its rival, HRPP, is interpreting the Court of Appeal decision on the 6th woman's seat.
The deputy leader of FAST Laauli Leuatea Schmidt says this should not stop the convening of Parliament.
Laauli says the inclusion of another woman MP in the Legislative Assembly could be months away, with legal challenges to court results and possible by-elections, to be completed.
But HRPP leader Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi has told the Samoa Observer that both parties could agree to withdraw all election petitions and convene with 26 seats each, creating a hung parliament and so forcing a new election.
COURT TO RULE ON CONSTITUTIONALITY OF FAST SWEARING IN
A decision is now expected early next week on the constitutionality of the FAST Party swearing in on the lawn in front of parliament on 24th May.
FAST, which had won the most seats in the April 9th election, organised the swearing in to comply with the country's electoral rules that parliament must sit within 45 days of the election.
But the FAST MPs found themselves barred illegally from parliament after the HRPP leader, Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, directed the Speaker to close the doors.
Tuila'epa called the FAST actions treasonous.
The Supreme Court in Apia on Monday heard submissions from both parties and its decision is likely early next week.
Meanwhile on Wednesday the Court of Appeal will be asked by FAST to clarify its ruling that there should be a sixth woman MP in parliament.
In that ruling the court also said any such decision couldn't occur until all the election petitions and any subsequent by-elections have been held.
FAST wants the court to stop the HRPP from using this decision to delay vacating government offices and allowing FAST to begin governing the country.
Auckland University law lecturer, Fuimaono Dylan Asafo, called this decision by the Court of Appeal a judicial overreach.
Of the 28 electoral petitions three have now been resolved.