Parliament to convene in 7 days a 'stepping stone' for Samoa

The Supreme Court decision ordering parliament to convene within 7 days is a "stepping stone" for Samoa to move forward politically and legally.

28th June, 2021

Parliament to convene in 7 days a 'stepping stone' for Samoa

By Paige Faigaa - Paige.faigaa@pmn.co.nz

The Supreme Court decision ordering parliament to convene within 7 days is a "stepping stone" for Samoa to move forward politically and legally.

The courts decision is expected to end a nearly three month long political and constitutional crisis, which Political Scientist Doctor Christina Laalaai-Tausa says is a huge relief.

​"It comes as huge relief for Samoans both locally and internationally, and hopefully is a stepping stone for things to go forward politically and legally."

Whilst relieved, Laalaai-Tausa says the court order should have been specific about a date, to kick start the political process.

She says political stability is needed now.

"We have the financial year around the corner, we have a few members of parliament and ministers who were voted out in the last elections and are still getting paid, we have new members that were voted in and are not getting paid and we have the public service who are unsure who to listen to. ​

"They should have been specific with a date and not just say within seven days, that has happened before and nothing came out of it."

With the court order finalised, the Head of State Tuimalealiifano Va'aletoa Sualauvi II ​needs to make an announcement and agree on a date for parliament to convene.

"The legislative assembly have to be prepared for that and follow the right process, and when parliament does meet they'll be able to check on which parties are there, and the numbers within each party. The party that comes up with the most numbers will be in control of government and the party with less amount of members will be the opposition party.

"Regardless of which party that will be, we know Samoa will have a strong and effective opposition its seen in the last 60 years," says Laalaai-Tausa.

The court also ruled that the swearing in of the Faatuatua ile Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) party held outside parliament on the 24th of May​ was unlawful.

However, the legality of this could be revisited depending on whether the order for parliament to convene within 7 days is followed.

The court warns if there are any attempts to obstruct the Legislative Assembly meeting it will be deemed contempt of Court. ​

Laalaai-Tausa says: "The supreme court has come out firing saying enough is enough this needs to start happening right now and failure to do so, there will be consequences for that.

​"So hopefully everyone who is required to be at the swearing in will be there, so we will see if the Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP), the legislative assembly, the Attorney General and Head of State will adhere to that."

Currently FAST has 26 seats, while HRPP has 24.​

Laalaai-Tausa​ says it's also important to remember petitions are still going on, which could change the numbers in the next few days.