Fiame Naomi Mata’afa took her oath as the newly elected prime minister of Samoa May 24, 2021. Photo courtesy of TVNZ.

HAGATNA (PACIFIC ISLAND TIMES) — Guam Vice Speaker Tina Rose Muña Barnes and Senator Mary Camacho Torres, chair and vice-chair of the 36th Guam Legislature’s Committee on Regional Affairs, urged the U.S government to recognise the Fiame Naomi Mata’afa as the newly elected prime minister of Samoa.
“Democracy cannot be denied, and we must uphold the values of a free and fair election process and the long-held democratic norms of peaceful transitions. We have seen firsthand the end result of a sitting leader refusing a peaceful transition,” Muna Barnes and Torres said in a letter to U.S officials.
Mata’afa took her oath on 24 May amid relentless attempts by her predecessor, Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi to block her assumption of office. Mata’afa leads the Faatuatua I le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST)
So far, only the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau have officially recognised Mata’afa.
“As women leaders of the Pacific, we are all too familiar with the stigma and challenges of a career in public service,” Muna Barnes and Torres said in a letter to U.S Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Australia, New Zealand, & Pacific Islands, Sandra Oudkirk as well as chairwoman Judy Chu of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.
“At the same time, it is up to us to pave the way and become the example our daughters dreamed of. As a nation that promotes a free and open Indo-Pacific, we must stand united in our commitment to the fundamental concept of democracy,” Guam senators added.
In Cook Islands, opposition leader Tina Pupuke Browne has extended congratulations and support for Mata’afa, encouraging the FAST Party leader to hold the post and continue “standing firm and unwavering.”
In a statement, Browne said PM Mata’afa’s resolve and determination to lead Samoa out of the current constitutional crisis deserves respect and support from neighbouring Pacific island governments and leaders.
“I have deep admiration and respect for Mata’afa, she’s going up against a former very long-serving PM and certain top officials who still support Tuilaepa (Malielegaoi), all of whom will not accept his defeat at the polls,” Browne said in a statement quoted by Cook Islands News.
“He’s trying everything to stay in power and is being aided and abetted by officials who have plunged this beautiful country into a crisis that will long be remembered. This is what Tuilaepa will be remembered for – the complete chaos that he wrecked on Samoa’s governance.”
FAST party has lodged a contempt application in court against Tuilaepaand former Parliament Speaker Toleafoa Faafisi, according to Talamua Online.
“This should not happen especially from those who have held respectful and influential positions in Government,” Talamua quoted Mata’afa as saying.
Last week, Tuilaepa lambasted the judiciary and judges of the Supreme Court for “aligning itself” with the FAST by walking to Parliament on Monday and confirming the parliament chambers doors were locked. …. PACNEWS

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *