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Minggu, 23 Mei 2021

Samoa faces political crisis as majority party blocked from Parliament, caretaker PM accused of holding onto power - ABC News

Samoa has been plunged into fresh political turmoil, as the party expected to form a new government for the first time in almost four decades was blocked from entering Parliament this morning.

The FAST party was confronted by police and locked doors as it tried to enter the building to begin the process of confirming Samoa's change of government, and install leader Fiame Naomi Mata'afa  as Samoa's first female prime minister.

It is the latest scene from a deepening constitutional crisis in the Pacific nation, which saw the Supreme Court intervene yesterday to overturn an attempt by the head of state to cancel today's parliamentary sitting without explanation.

But caretaker Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has contradicted the court ruling, saying only the head of state has the power to convene parliament. 

Tuilaepa has also insisted his Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) remains the government, amid accusations he is rejecting the democratic handover of leadership.

"He is holding onto power unfortunately ... and weaponising the constitution," said journalist Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson.

Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne has taken to Twitter to say Australia has "faith" in the country's judiciary.

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"We have faith in Samoa's institutions including the judiciary."

FAST's leaders are currently meeting to decide their next steps, while a party spokesman has described this morning's events as a "coup".

Fiame Naomi Mata'afa poses for a portrait with a red dress, flower in her hair an traditional garland.
Fiame Naomi Mata'afa is set to become prime minister of Samoa once Parliament sits.(

AP: Via FAST party

)

Should Parliament sit, it will end weeks of political uncertainty in Samoa since the April 9 general election, which ended with FAST and the HRPP locked at 25 seats each with one independent in the 51-seat parliament.

When the independent sided with FAST, Prime Minister Tuilaepa — who has held the top job for more than 22 years — boosted his numbers by adding an extra MP to his party under provisions setting out the minimum quota of women in parliament.

He then pushed for a second election for May 21.

The courts overturned both measures and a panel of appeal judges on Friday rejected HRPP's bid for a stay on the rulings.

Tuilaepa has insisted the HRPP still has the numbers to lead the nation of 220,000.

Before a meeting in chambers with FAST and the HRPP yesterday, Fiame urged for legal rulings to be followed.

"The refusal to accept defeat has moved from obstruction and defiance by the caretaker prime minister… to a complete disregard for the law," she said.

ABC/AFP

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2021-05-24 01:54:10Z
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