Samoa’s Supreme Court dismisses Head of State’s call for fresh election

Samoa's Fono
Samoa's Fono, or Parliament ... court ruling may pave the way for the country's first woman prime minister.

RNZ News

Samoa’s Supreme Court has thrown out the Head of State’s decision to call a second election, clearing the path for the newcomer FAST party to form a government.

Announcing the second election earlier this month, Tuimaleali’ifano Va’aletoa Sualauvi II told Samoans it was the best way to break the political deadlock that emerged after last month’s election.

However, the court today found that he had no constitutional power to call for the election while outstanding matters relating to April’s election were still unresolved.

This decision follows another ruling by the court earlier today which gave FAST an electoral majority, by voiding the addition of an un-elected extra women’s seat.

The sixth women’s seat had created the deadlock between FAST and the caretaker government HRPP party following last month’s general election.

The Electoral Office last month added the extra seat purportedly to meet a provision in the constitution that 10 percent of seats are reserved for women. The five elected women’s seats corresponded to 9.8 percent of the 51-member House.

That extra seat was appointed to the caretaker HRPP government, creating a 26-all deadlock.

But the Supreme Court today returned a unanimous verdict ruling that decision was unconstitutional.

The constitution describes the women’s representation for its 51 electoral constituencies as “a minimum of 10 percent of the Members of the Legislative Assembly specified under clause (1) which for the avoidance of doubt is presently 5”.

It is expected that FAST’s leader Fiame Naomi Mata’afa will now call for Parliament to be recalled so she can declare a government.

Fiame would become Samoa’s first woman prime minister.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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