Election Petitions Continue in Court

Counsels for election petitions outside Court, Tues 4th May 2021. Photo: Maina Vai, SGN.

Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese has confirmed the continuation of 28 post election petitions before the Supreme Court of Samoa despite a writ issued Tuesday night by the Head of State to revoke all Warrants of Appointments relating to the 9th April 2021 General Elections.

Photo: Maina Vai, SGn.

In a notice to members of the legal fraternity, the Chief Justice of Samoa reminds all lawyers involved that the 28 electoral petitions before the Courts, as well as the FAST party challenge against the AG and Others, “are matters of which the Supreme Court is seised,” states the Chief Justice.

“Counsels are directed to continue to prepare the petitions and counter petitions for hearing”, reminds the CJ.

Photo: Maina Vai, SGN.

All 28 petitions were called for first mention this week on Tuesday 4th May. Parties were then given until next Tuesday 11th May, to file counter petitions.

That process is moving forward according to set timelines despite the uncertainties caused by the snap election announcement.

“The next call over for the electoral petitions is scheduled for 12 May 2021, Wednesday at 2pm,” reads the reminder notice addressed to members of the Samoa Law Society, the Office of the Attorney General and Law firms.

The results of Samoa’s recent general election has been hinged on the Court’s interpretation of Article 44(1A) of Samoa’s Constitution, activated by the Head of State on advice of the OEC to appoint an additional Member of Parliament. The warrant of election that appoints Aliimalemanu Alofa Tuuau as Samoa’s 52nd MP is being challenged by FAST.

FAST Leader and Former Deputy Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa. Photo: Maina Vai, SGN.

Faatuatua i Le Atua Samoa ua Tasi party leader Fiame Naomi Mataafa has rejected the call for fresh elections, and FAST lawyers have said they will be challenging the constitutionality and lawfulness of the writ issued by the Head of State.

The former Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa has said, “I do not consider that the Head of State has the constitutional power to call a new election at this time”.

In his written address the Head of State speculates that public confidence in the Judiciary has been compromised..

“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 Courts will be questioned and viewed through that prism”.

In what is becoming a viscous cycle of events, the Head of State’s announcement for a replay of the April 9th general elections was made on the eve of a Supreme Court hearing to challenge a warrant of election His Highness had issued on the 20th of April 2021.

The Head of State says in his written address that this course of action is what is best for Samoa..

“I am of the firm belief that given the fact that there is no majority to form a Parliament, it is in the best interest of Samoa that fresh elections be called to allow our people a second opportunity to elect for itself its 17th Parliament”.

Fiame, however, says the proposed actions are wrong and unlawful.

“These proposed actions threaten and undermine the rule of law”.

Sina Retzlaff