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Samoa’s FAST party gets quickly down to work after court ruling

Fiame Naomi Mataafa and Laauli Leuatea Schmidt
compiled by Samoa News staff

Apia, SAMOA — Samoa's new FAST Party government has got down to work this morning, meeting with the heads of government departments, more than 100 days after it had won the election.

FAST MPs were forced to swear themselves in because the Head of State had barred them from entering Parliament.

The court ruled that the swearing in complied with the Constitution and so it was legitimate.

The judges wrote “that the swearing in, is in and of itself Constitutional and lawful, and there is no need to consider the doctrine of necessity.”

They also said the Head of State, Afioga Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II, had shown a lack of understanding of his constitutional role and an equally basic lack of understanding of the role of the Supreme Court.

The judges said the Supreme Court is “the guardian of the Constitution and it will continue to protect and maintain the rule of law and democracy under the Supreme law.”

While the FAST cabinet has been at work, the HRPP party, which has been reduced to 17 seats to FAST’s 26 through the electoral petition process, is continuing to grumble about the decision.

Local media have reported caretaker prime minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi is refusing to concede. However, The Samoa Observer is reporting today that the former Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi has started to pack his personal effects in the Government office he has occupied for 22 years.

The newspaper was outside the Fiame Mata'afa Faumuina Mulinuu II building on Saturday morning and saw boxes being packed onto a Toyota Hilux Double Cab which was parked in the carpark outside the office.

It is understood Tuilaepa’s family members were at the building assisting the former Prime Minister pack his personal effects.

The former Prime Minister’s decision to start packing are the first signs of conceding defeat in three months after the constitutional crisis began.

One of the first to congratulate the Prime Minister-elect, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, on her victory, was New Zealand’s leader, Jacinda Ardern.

“New Zealand has a special relationship with Samoa, anchored in the Treaty of Friendship. We look forward to working with Samoa’s new government in the spirit of partnership that characterises this bond,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“After a long period of uncertainty following the post-election, New Zealand welcomes the stability that a functioning government will bring,” Jacinda Ardern said.

This is an historic moment for Samoan democracy.

“New Zealand will continue to work side-by-side with Samoa to advance our shared interests, particularly through promoting prosperity, security, and sustainability in the Pacific as we recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Jacinda Ardern said.

The Prime Minister also acknowledged outgoing Prime Minister Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi and his contribution to Samoa.

“I acknowledge the former Prime Minister’s leadership. He delivered so much to Samoa and the region over his long career, and more than 20 years as the nation’s leader,” Jacinda Ardern said.

(Sources: RNZ Pacific, Samoa Observer)