Friday 30 July 2021, Apia Samoa. More than three hundred cars congregated infront of the Human Rights Protection Party headquarters at 10am Friday morning, to participate in a political rally against the Samoa Judiciary.
Hundreds more joined the rally as cars drove around the perimeter of Upolu. The motorcade was split into two groups; one going east towards Atua and the other west towards Aana and Mulifanua before meeting up at Siumu for lunch, before travelling back down the Cross-Island road towards Apia to the Matautu wharf.
The car rally left the HRPP headquarters and headed towards the Courthourse at Mulinuu before splitting up into the two groups. Samoan flags were seen flying from the windows of all cars, as they drove slowly towards the Courthouse before making the u-turn at Mulinuu peninsula to head back into town.
The vehicles were seen with banners that read: “Fa’avae o Samoa, Fa’afo’i le Malosi’aga Ao o le Malo.” “Protect the Constitution, Restore Head of State’s Powers.”
Another banner says, “Chief Justice, Destroyer of Our Constitution, You Must
On the HRPP official page, it states the reason for the rallies is because “the Chief Justice has destroyed the Constitution”.
The Police have increased security around the Chief Justice and Justices of the Supreme Court, in view of the stance taken by HRPP supporters, with several derogatory hate messages now being shared on social media.
The HRPP political rally is responding to a Court of Appeal decision handed down last Friday 23rd July 2021, where the judgment declared the FAST party had attained the support of the majority of elected Members of Parliament, and were therefore the legal government. The judgment found a swearing-in of FAST elected members conducted under a tent outside a locked Parliament House as lawful, and further declared the HRPP Caretaker government, no longer in power.
The judgment states that, “the Head of State does not have the Constitutional authority to convene the first meeting (of Parliament following an election) whenever he likes after the 45th day, as he had purported to do in his 4th July 2021 Proclamation.”
“As we have found, the Head of State has shown a basic lack of understanding of his Constitutional role and an equally basic lack of understanding about the role of the Supreme Court and the scope of the Court’s powers under the Constitution.”
The Court of Appeal observes that the events following the April 9th general election, the closest between political parties in decades, highlighted the many gaps in Samoa’s Constitution.
“What if Head of State decides not to attend the swearing in? Who then or does the event simply not take place? What if the Deputy Head of State refuses to attend the swearing-in to administer the oaths? Does it mean the Independent State of Samoa has no Legislative Assembly following a general election until a Head of State or his Deputy Head of State decide to attend to carry out their ceremonial duties? These are the very issues which have arisen in this case”.
“We do not consider that the framers of the Constitution would ever have thought possible that the Head of State would deliberately stay away from the swearing-in of Parliament. But this year he has”.
HRPP supporters for the car rally included the No Cash car club seen supporting the parade of cars, and the former Prime Minister Tuilaepa clapping with joy and waving enthusiastically, as they drove past.
Tuilaepa says the two initiatives planned by HRPP are not protests, but rather, political rallies where the party is calling for the restoration of Samoa’s Constitution, which according to HRPP, has been destroyed by the Judiciary. The leader of HRPP, a party that has been in power for the past 40 years, has repeatedly called for the resignation of Chief Justice and Supreme Court Justices Niava Mata Tuatagaloa and Tologata Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren.
“The whole purpose of our political rally today and Monday next week is to restore and respect the integrity and dignity of this nation’s Constitution the Supreme Law of our country, which stipulates the Rule of Law which the citizens of Samoa must all observe so that our people can continue to live in peace and in a stable environment”, said Tuilaepa.
The car rally was well publicised on social media throughout the day, as vehicles moved across the country, with a guard of honor set up in support of the HRPP, when the vehicles reached the Head of State’s village of Falelatai.