Additional Parliamentary Seat Declared “Unconstitutional and Void”

FAST party supporters outside Court. 📷 Taielua Tuasivi, SGN.

The Supreme Court of Samoa has declared the warrant of election issued by Head of State HH Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II appointing  Aliimalemanu Alofa Tuuau as an additional Member of Parliament, “unconstitutional and therefore void”.

The decision was delievered by Justice Lesatele Rapi Vaai on behalf the three panel bench with Justices Niava Mata Tuatagaloa and Vui Clarence Nelson.

The Office of the Electoral Commissioner (OEC) declared HRPP’s Aliimalemanu Alofa Tuuau of Alataua-i-Sisifo an additional Member of Parliament four days after the official results were published, declaring the activation of Article 44(1A) stating, “the constitution requires a minimum of 10% of parliament’s seats shall be occupied by women members”.

The additional seat for HRPP created a hung Parliament, as Independent MP Tuala Tevaga Ponifasio moved to FAST, giving the Fiame Naomi Mataafa led party the 26/51 seats needed to call Parliament as the new Government.

FAST immediately challenged the decision as unconstitutional, applying to the Court to have the warrant issued by the Head of State declared unlawful and void. However, the night before the substantive hearing of this case, the Head of State issued another writ revoking all warrants issued as results of the April 9th General Elections, calling the nation to return to the polls by snap election this Friday 21st of May 2021.

Sea of Red outside Court, Mulinuu. 📷 Taielua Tuasivi, SGN.

The Court has found for the FAST application and today, put the much debated issue to rest.

“The warrant of election issued on 20th April 2021 was unconstitutional and therefore void,” said Justice Lesatele Rapi Vaai.

The Court ordered costs to be paid to the two applicants being the Fast Party and Alataua-i-Sisifo MP Seuula Ioane of $6,000 tala each. The Court also ordered costs to be paid to second respondent Aliimalemanu Alofa Tuuau of $3,000 tala. The OEC as first respondent, were ordered to pay costs set down by Court within 14 working days.

Outside Court the Deputy leader of Faatuatua i Le Atua Samoa ua Tasi called for peace amongst the sea of red supporters.

Laaulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao after Court decision was delivered. 📷 Taielua Tuasivi, SGN.

“The Court has delivered its decision and we call on our supporters to remain calm and maintain peace upon Samoa. E saili i lalo Malo”, said Laauli.

In relation to 21 May 2021 fresh elections, the OEC has moved ahead with preparations for new elections, while the validity of the Head of State’s revocation order is expected to be handed down by the Supreme Court at 3pm this afternoon.

Full court decisions for both cases will follow..

Marieta H Ilalio