Fiame Naomi Mata'afa (pictured centre, in white) is sworn in at the makeshift ceremony. GETTY IMAGES

APIA, 24 MAY 2021 (SAMOA OBSERVER/NEWSHUB) — Samoa’s Parliament doors have been locked down and guarded by police in another attempt to delay and not convene the first Parliament session to swear in new parliamentarians following 09 April general elections and the formation of a new government to be led by the first female Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mataafa.
The Chief Justice, Satiu Simativa Perese has stepped in to uphold the rule of law and walked from his Chambers across Parliament grounds and accompanied by other members of the judiciary, to confirm that Parliament is really locked.
The Head of State who made the first announcement for Parliament to convene this morning did not attend. The former Speaker of Parliament also made the announcement last night that the swearing ceremony was not proceeding. Reports said that he took the parliament keys last night.
The Clerk of the House, Tiatia Graeme Tualaulelei came and informed the FAST Party leaders, elected members, members of the clergy and the supporters who gathered in a tent just outside the Parliament entrance, that his hands are tied as he listens to his instructions.
FAST Part leader, Fiame Naomi Mataafa told the 300 plus people gathered “that you have seen now what is happening to our country. That the people have been denied entrance to their house through their representatives they elected in the House.”
The Parliament grounds had a heavy police presence but the crowd was well controlled.
Mata’afa told those gathered to leave it to her and the Party for other legal options moving forward.
Meanwhile, Samoa’s political chaos is “shameful” and “sad”, according to a political expert who says there’s no sign the outgoing Prime Minister will relinquish his grip on power anytime soon.
Mata’afa Keni Lesa told The AM Show on Monday it’s been a sleepless few days after its Prime Minister of 23 years Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Neioti Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi seemingly refused to peacefully transition power on Saturday night.
Lesa told The AM Show Monday was supposed to be “a wonderful day for everyone” as a new Parliament was due to be sworn in – but instead, there’s turmoil.
“I think a general feeling is the outgoing Prime Minister doesn’t want to give up power, and everything points to that,” he said.
“Since 09 April the Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) and their Prime Minister have done everything to deny what the law says.”
Samoa’s constitutional crisis deepened on Sunday night when the supposedly retired Speaker of the House Leaupepe Toleafoa Faafisi overturned a Supreme Court order which would have allowed Parliament to convene on Monday
It’s the latest development in a stalemate that has been ongoing since 09 April when incumbent Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa was elected as the first female prime minister.
Her Party, FAST, which was formed by a breakaway group from the HRPP, gained the upper hand over the incumbent party, which has been in power since 1982.
Last week Head of State Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II declared Parliament would sit today, as required by law. But on Saturday, he backtracked, saying Parliament would not sit “until such a time as to be announced and for reasons that I will make known in due course.”.
This was ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court on Sunday – then hours later the Speaker said the official swearing-in was postponed “until a further proclamation has been made by the Head of State.”
Lesa says the chaos marks a “very shameful and very sad” day for Samoa.
“My hope is that at some point it will end quietly, and he will hand power over gracefully… a lot of people in this nation, they want a peaceful transition,” he said…. PACNEWS

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