BY: Olkeriil Ngirudelsang
Palau became the second country in the world to recognize Fiame Naomi Mata’Afa as the new Prime Minister of Samoa. An official letter that was signed yesterday stated that “The people and the government of the Republic of Palau wish to express our heartfelt congratulations on your election and the Supreme Court’s ruling, which affirmed your selection as Prime Minister”. Palau further congratulated her historic nomination as she became only the second female prime minister in the Pacific region.
The election of Samoa was concluded weeks ago on April 9th, and the 51 members of the Samoan Parliament were mandated by their constitution to convene within 45 days and form a government. While FAST Party was having a 26 to 25 majority, the HRPP Party was suddenly given one more member causing a hung parliament of 26 to 26. This was after the election commission declared an HRPP woman candidate a winner allegedly to satisfy the law that requires 10% of parliament to be made up of women and thus adding another member to the legislative assembly. While court battles have been ongoing and calls for a new snap election has been announced by its head of state, Fiame was sworn in outside of the legislative building in a tent after she and her FAST Party were locked out of Parliament.
HRPP Party has been in power for more than 40 years and its current leader has been prime minister for more than 20 years. FAST Party was only formed last year and whose leader was the deputy prime minister who used to be an HRPP member.
Today, HRPP Party is still announcing that it is still the current government contesting FAST Party members swearing in as unconstitutional.
Palau comes second only to FSM in congratulating Fiame as prime minister. While many statements have been sent by many pacific countries leaders such as the Marshall Islands, Australia,and New Zealand, all have only been goodwill statements urging the respect for rule of law. No other country except Palau and the FSM has officially chosen a side and recognizing one Party leader over the other as the legitimate prime minister of Samoa.