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Win for Fast party as court rejects appeal over extra seat ... BUT

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Apia, SAMOA — A Court of Appeal decision on Wednesday (Samoa time) may pave the way for the newcomer Fast Party to assume control of the Samoan government.

Samoa's Court of Appeal has voided the legal challenge by a Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) women's candidate, who said she was wrongly removed as an MP.

Ali'imalemanu Alofa Tuuau had been appointed as the sixth woman's MP by the Electoral Commissioner, but then had her appointment rescinded in a decision by the Supreme Court.

That decision gave the newcomer Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) party the slimmest majority in the new Parliament, and this latest decision now confirms that.

But, as FAST party lawyer Taulapapa Brenda Heather-Latu explains, the court also ruled that six women MPs is the correct number under the Samoan system of reserving parliamentary seats for women.

"But, that the decision whether or not to add a woman to make up the six cannot be determined until after the electoral petitions and the by-elections are complete," she said.

"So that there is certainty as to the exact members that make up the Parliament."