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Election and constitutional crisis in Samoa

Posted on 25 May 2021

Samoa’s Prime Minister-elect Fiame Naomi Mata’afa has been locked out of the Pacific nation’s parliament after her political rival, outgoing Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, refused to cede power despite losing a general election in April.

Mata’afa arrived at the Pacific nation’s parliament yesterday accompanied by judges, ready to form a new government and take the oath as the country’s first female prime minister. 

Barred from entering the legislative chamber, Mata’afa and members of her FAST party held an ad-hoc oath-taking ceremony in a large marquee in the gardens of parliament, as supporters sang hymns and police looked on.

In a statement released this morning, UN Secretary-General António Guterres "[urged] the leaders in Samoa to find solutions to the current political situation through dialogue in the best interest of the people and institutions of Samoa." The statement goes on to say that the UN "stands ready" to provide support for the island nation - but only if requested to by the two main political parties.

Meanwhile, the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia of the new leadership; releasing a statement shortly after the swearing-in ceremony saying it recognises the legitimacy of Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata'afa.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand is not in a position to intervene as Samoa's two major political parties continue to battle it out for power. Ardern said New Zealand encouraged "all parties and political leaders" to uphold the election outcome and the decisions of institutions including the judiciary, and the rule of law.