Desperate Tactic to Delay Parliament Rejected by Chief Justice

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A desperate attempt by the Attorney General to delay the official opening of Samoa’s XVIIth Parliament was rejected by Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese.

As the nation prepared to convene its XVIIth Parliament following a proclamation issued by the Head of State, the Attorney General filed a late submission to the Supreme Court on Friday afternoon seeking to revoke His Highness’ proclamation.

In a Minute of the Court document published below, Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese reminds the Attorney General that the interpretation of Article 44 relating to having a 6th women in Parliament has already been dealt with by the Supreme Court. The AG was also reminded that their application to stay execution of that Supreme Court judgement has been rejected by the Court of Appeal in its decision delivered 12pm Friday afternoon.

“On a general footing, it appears that the questions that the Attorney General wishes to raise at this late stage of the lead up to the convening of the Legislative Assembly were adequately covered in the application for stay. The Court has ruled against the Attorney General’s application for stay of execution, and it has not invited any further submissions”, sates the Chief Justice.

The Chief Justice goes on to make serious observations about the Attorney General, and points out that rulings of the Supreme Court is the Law.

“Although it appears plain that the Attorney General does not accept the authority of the Supreme Court, we emphasise that the Supreme Court has ruled on the Art 44 issue, a stay was sought but dismissed and the Office of the Electoral Commissioner should be under no illusion but that the ruling of the Supreme Court represents the law in Samoa, and it should be followed. Failure to abide by the law has its own consequences”, reads the statement published in verbatim below.

In relation to the appeal filed by the Office of the Attorney General against the Supreme Court decision to have an additional Member of Parliament, the Chief Justice made it clear that the Court of Appeal would set a date as soon as possible after the election petitions are heard and decided.

“An appeal hearing date will be allocated by the Court of Appeal as soon as possible, once a hearing time becomes available after the hearing and determination if electoral petitions in the Supreme Court,” states Chief Justice Satiu.

File photo: Taulapapa Brenda Heather-Latu. on Talamua Media talking about the 3 Bills.⁸

Asked for a comment former Attorney General and lawyer for FAST Taulapapa Brenda Heather-Latu says it is not right that after seven long weeks, the caretaker Prime Minister is still trying to stop the democratic process from reaching its ultimate conclusion, which is to convene the House of Samoa’s elected representatives.

“When will this stop and the votes of the people of Samoa be honoured and acknowledged?” asks Taulapapa.

“There was a free and fair election conducted in an efficient and organised manner on 9 April 2021. We returned to our villages and we took the trouble to cast our precious vote”.

“Have so many of the government officials and all the mute HRPP party members who are facilitating this behaviour become so corrupted or are so incompetent or so terrified and intimidated that they are no longer capable of acting honestly, fairly, justly or lawfully?”

“Or must we, the people, cry, free us from the bondage of the powerful and the corrupt and those who have no love for their people once and for all?” asks Taulapapa.

As this story was being published (9pm 22 May), uncertainty continues to loom in Samoa as sources say His Highness the Head of State Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II, has left his home at Vailele and is being taken to Falelatai. Unconfirmed reports say the Head of State may be issuing another writ.

Update: The Head of State has issued a further proclamation to suspend the official opening of Parliament. 

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Minute of the Court

The Attorney General has filed an application for this Court to determine certain questions, pursuant to Article 70 of the Constitution. Respectfully, the Attorney’s interpretation of an ability to seek an opinion from this Court is precluded by Article 70(2), which provides that any party to a proceeding before another Court (except the Court of Appeal) may ask for that Court to rule on a question arising as to the interpretation of that Constitution. The matter is now under appeal is no longer in the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction, that the jurisdiction of this Court.

If the Attorney wishes to pursue her questions, then they should form part of the grounds of appeal. An appeal hearing date will be allocated by the Court of Appeal as soon as possible, once a hearing time becomes available after the hearing and determination if electoral petitions in the Supreme Court.

Although it appears plain that the Attorney General does not accept the authority of the Supreme Court, we emphasise that the Supreme Court has ruled on the Art 44 issue, a stay was sought but dismissed and the Office of the Electoral Commissioner should be under no illusion but that the ruling of the Supreme Court represents the law in Samoa, and it should be followed. Failure to abide by the law has its own consequences.

On a general footing, it appears that the questions that the Attorney General wishes to raise at this late stage of the lead up to the convening of the Legislative Assembly were adequately covered in the application for stay. The Court has ruled against the Attorney General’s application for stay of execution, and it has not invited any further submissions.


Sina Retzlaff