SAMOA OBSERVER – By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia – Ah Tong, 04/05/2021
The Head of State, His Highness Tuimaleali’ifano Sualauvi Va’aletoa II has declared the April General Elections void, calling on fresh elections by 21 May 2021.
The announcement by His Highness was made at his Vailele residence in the evening, soon after the leader of Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) announced their opposition to an election do-over.
Tuimalealiifano says he has observed events that followed the April 9 General Elections, after a 26-seat deadlock between the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) and Faatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party prolonged the forming of the next government for the XVII Parliamentary term.
In his announcement, Tuimalealiifano noted concerns about the impartiality of the Court and its independence.
The Head of State added that the 28 electoral petitions currently before the court and the political uncertainty has affected every part of the country.
“Essentially the Courts will determine 29 seats of Parliament, including the additional seat for women, representing more than 50 per cent of the membership of Parliament.
“The politic discourse has done little to assist these matters.
“Political leaders and supporters on both sides have laid serious accusations against [the] impartiality of the Court, lessening the appearance of that arm to discharge its constitutional and common law functions to interpret and apply our laws.
“Whatever the outcome of the petitions, the decisions of the Court will be questioned and viewed through that [prism].”
The decision follows a meeting between the leader of the Human Rights Protection Party and Caretaker Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi and F.A.S.T. leader, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa on Tuesday.
According to Fiame the proposal was supported by the Caretaker Prime Minister.
Only two hours prior to the Head of State’s announcement, Fiame and her party rejected the declaration saying it “pre-empts” the decision on an electoral challenge pending before the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
“…[It] undermines the actual votes of all the members of Parliament that were declared winners in the official count released by the Electoral Commissioner,” she said.
“These proposed actions are wrong and unlawful it also threatens and undermines the rule of law.
“In my written response to the Head of State I have asked him to allow the Supreme Court to hear and decide the challenge before it.”