NPR NEWS – THE ASSOCIATED PRESS – May 24, 20218:36 AM ET
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Samoa was plunged into a constitutional crisis Monday when the woman who won an election last month was locked out of Parliament and the previous leader claimed he remained in charge.
The fast-moving events marked the latest twist in a bitter power struggle that has been playing out in the small Pacific nation since it elected its first female leader. Not only is Samoa’s peace and stability at stake, but also its relationship with China.
On Monday morning, Prime Minister-elect Fiame Naomi Mata’afa and her supporters showed up at parliament to form a new government, but were not allowed inside.
She and her FAST Party later took oaths and appointed ministers in a ceremony held under a tent in front of the locked Parliament, actions that opponents said were illegal.
The nation’s Supreme Court had earlier ordered the Parliament to convene. And the constitution requires that lawmakers meet within 45 days of an election, with Monday marking the final day by that count.
But Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who was prime minister for 22 years before his unexpected election loss, doesn’t appear ready to give up power. He was already one of the longest-serving leaders in the world.
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