Fiame Naomi Mataafa, leader of the Faatuatua ile Atua Samoa ua Tasi party. Photo / Tipi Autagavaia, RNZ Pacific

APIA, 17 MAY 2021 (SAMOA OBSERVER) — Samoa’s election deadlock has finally been broken after the Supreme Court overruled the appointment of Aliimalemanu Alofa Tuuau as an additional Member of Parliament unconstitutional.
The unanimous verdict reached by a panel of justices of the Supreme Court on Monday now gives the Faatuatua ile Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) party the majority to form Government with 26 seats to their rivals, the Human Rights Protection Party’s (HRPP) 25.
Justice Lesatele Rapi Vaai handed down the decision together with Justice Vui Clarence Nelson and Justice Niava Mata Tuatagaloa.
Justice Vaai ordered that the warrant of election issued by the Head of State to appoint Aliimalemanu was declared void.
The verdict from the panel of Justices follows a legal challenge mounted by FAST against the Electoral Commissioner for activating a provision in the constitution to increase the number of women MPs.
Aliimalemanu was initially appointed to the Legislative Assembly, less than two weeks after last month’s national election.
The Office of the Electoral Commissioner (OEC) had initially said that there was no need to invoke a quota mandating that per cent of MPs elected are women.
But in a late-night posting to their Facebook account on 20 April the OEC said that the constitutional requirement that 10 per cent women representation in Parliament had not in fact been met. As the woman election candidate to have received the highest proportion of votes in her seats despite losing, Aliimalemanu was chosen to fill what the OEC had since argued was a void in women’s representation in Parliament.
Five women were duly elected at the completion of the 9 April election. The Commission had argued that represented only 9.8 per cent of the total membership of the Parliament and so required the activation of the quota and Aliimalemanu’s election.
The result was to bring the results of the election to a 26-all deadlock between the major parties, undermining FAST’s claim to a majority.
The now-voided deadlock was among the reasons invoked by the Head of State, His Highness, Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II, for declaring the 09 April poll void as neither party, it was argued, could claim they commanded a majority in Parliament.
FAST disputed the reasoning as pre-empting the court’s decision on the validity of Aliimalemanu’s vote and lacking constitutional validity having been made without Parliament having been convened.
A decision on the voiding of the election is expected to be delivered later this afternoon….. PACNEWS

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