Samoa could go back to the polls with a hung parliament

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Samoa media conference 21042021
Samoa's caretaker Prime Minister Tuilaepa Salele Malielegaoi talking to the media yesterday. Image: Talamua Online

By Lagi Keresoma in Apia

Samoa could end going back to the polls should a tie of 26/26 between the Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) and the Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) party ensue.

The caretaker Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, told the media yesterday of the possibility of a united government to avoid Samoa having a hung Parliament.

“If I call Parliament to meet tomorrow with such numbers 26/26, then there is no other way but to ask the Head of State to dissolve Parliament and call fresh elections,” said Tuilaepa.

He said when the results came back on election day, he called independent Tuala Ponifasio to congratulate him, and then texted him the following Sunday asking for a meeting.

“I told him that he held the balance for a government and that it was a good thing for his children and his constituency, and that I wanted to help him decide no matter which side he will take,” said Tuilaepa.

He also informed Tuala that a government cannot be formed should he continue as an independent, and the only option is for the Head of State to declare another election.

Asked about a media report that Tuala had asked him to step down, Tuilaepa said the meeting was between two professionals.

Report ‘a bit harsh’
“The report was a bit harsh but it was not in that tone as we talked as two professionals,” said Tuilaepa.

On the second and last meeting, Tuala asked for some of his senior members to be present. But Tuala was late and the meeting was not long “as the party was waiting for our evening prayers,” said Tuilaepa.

After that meeting, Tuala said he was announcing his decision on Wednesday this week after he meets his constituency.

Tuilaepa has confirmed that his party is preparing legal challenges against FAST and he was mindful of possible petitions against HRPP.

How long these legal battles take is unpredictable and it could take more than a month for some.

Tuilaepa, however, said that the hearing of the legal challenges will not stop the formation of a government, and the outcome of the cases will also determine the fate of the government of the day.

He referred to 1982 when Samoa had four different governments and prime ministers in one year as a result of court cases following the general elections.

Meanwhile, the court decisions against cases before it will have an impact on the numbers of elected members for each party and may influence the formation of a new government.

Lagi Keresoma is a reporter with Talamua Online.

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