Court Dates Set for Leaders of Both Political Parties

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Hearing dates have been set for two pending cases involving leaders of the two political parties now at an impasse in the fight for control of Samoa’s government. Both cases were mentioned before the Supreme Court of Samoa on Monday afternoon 14th June 2021.

Caretaker Prime Minister Hon Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi faces a motion that he be cited for contempt of Court while Prime Minister Elect Hon Fiame Naomi Mataafa faces a  challenge questioning the lawfulness of her swearing-in.

Both court cases result from what transpired on Monday 24th May 2021 – a day that could possibly go down as the saddest day in Samoa’s history since the nation’s Independence in 1962.

The doors of Samoa’s Maota Fono remained closed after the Supreme Court issued Court Orders upholding a Head of State Proclamation for Parliament to convene. The contempt of Court allegations against the HRPP’s Caretaker Prime Minister stems from that incident.

Later on that same day, FAST party leader Fiame Naomi Mataafa and all 26 elected FAST MPs were sworn in under a tent outside the closed doors of Parliament House.

Swearing In

The lawfulness of the swearing in ceremony held on Monday 24th May 2021, is being challenged by the Attorney General.

The Attorney General filed an application, “for declarations that the purported opening of Parliament and purported swearing-in ceremony are unconstitutional and unlawful”.

The respondents include FAST lawyers Matafeo George Latu and Taulapapa Brenda Heather-Latu, Hon Fiame Naomi Mataafa sworn in as Prime Minister on that day, and all 26 elected FAST MPs, as well as one unsuccessful candidate Veatauia Faatasi Puleiata who had assisted during the ceremony.

Former Attorney General Taulapapa Brenda Heather-Latu had set out the legal basis of the process FAST followed, which Taulapapa says is justified according to the doctrine of  necessity because Parliament is constitutionally required to convene within 45 days of a general election.

Attorney General Savalenoa Mareva Betham-Annandale on the other hand set out sections of the Constitution requiring Parliamentarians to be sworn in by the Head of State.

The Supreme Court has set down next Monday 21st June 2021 for the substantive hearing of this matter.

Contempt of Court

The Supreme Court has set the substantive hearing for this matter a week later on Monday 28th June 2021.

FAST is asking the Court to have Hon Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi, Hon Leaupepe Toleafoa Faafisi, the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly and the Attorney General, all cited for contempt of Court for failing to convene Parliament.

The Supreme Court Orders issued Sunday 23rd May 2021 declared a Proclamation to suspend the opening of Parliament as unlawful and upheld the first Proclamation by the Head of State for Parliament to convene, as required by Samoa’s Constitution within 45 days of an election.

In the same Court Orders the Supreme Court directed that copies of the judgment be immediately delivered to the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, together with the Attorney General and His Highness the Head of State.

However on the same Sunday night at about 9pm, Hon Toleafoa Faafisi who had been Samoa’s Speaker before Parliament dissolved prior to elections, issued a public notice announcing Parliament would not convene.

It has been 10 long weeks since Samoa’s April 9th general elections and no solution for the political stand off is in sight.