8.10pm Sunday 23 May 2021 Apia Samoa. Fresh elections, no elections; Parliament is on again, Parliament is off again. The post-election saga in Samoa is getting beyond ridiculous as the public endure front row seats to the worst ever chapter of its nation’s history.
On Friday, the Legislative Assembly was in full force preparation mode for the XVIIth Parliament of Samoa to finally swear-in members elected during the country’s 5-yearly general elections held 9th April 2021. A proclamation by the Head of State was attached, signed 20th May 2021 declaring Parliament to convene on Monday morning.
Friday afternoon. 500 invitations were sent out including the Diplomatic Corp, business and community leaders, heads of government departments as well as to eager and excited spiritual parents and family members of the elected MPs. Tents were put up, catering would have been ordered, and seamstresses across Samoa would have been busy making new outfits for Samoans keen to be a part of history – whether you would get a seat inside or sit outside in tents listening over live coverage.
Saturday night, the public receives a proclamation that the Head of State has changed his mind. Bazinga!
His Highness issued a proclamation to suspend his earlier proclamation, and effectively cancels Parliament despite preparations well underway. Never mind that he was warned by the Supreme Court that the Samoa Constitution requires him to call Parliament within 45 days of an election. That 45 days expires Monday 24th May.
Seemingly tossed by the wind and the waves the Head of State signs a new writ to cancel out his old writ, and is then transported by Police escort to Falelatai, where he spends the night while the country asks, WTF – Where’s The Food in all of this?
Sunday morning. FAST lawyers move even FASTER to lodge a 7am application to seek the Court’s intervention.. again!
The Judiciary, who have already had to rule on the legality of several actions taken and decisions made by various key players post-election, have to call a special sitting, and work on a Sunday. The media wait under trees near the Courthouse – prohibited from entering the stairs leading into the shaded courtyard of the building. Three hours later, at 2pm on Sunday afternoon, Samoa has Orders signed and issued by the Supreme Court – stating the original HoS Proclamation as Law, and the Bazinga one as unlawful.
8.10pm still on Sunday.. this notice attached issued by the Legislative Assembly from the Desk of the Speaker.. and signed by resigned Speaker Leaupepe Toleafoa Faafisi. According to this public notice.. Parliament is postponed.
No reference was made to Section 52 of the Constitution requiring Parliament to convene within 45 days of an election. Just reference to the very proclamation deemed illegal by the Supreme Court just hours before.
Samoa is now in a State of Emergency within the Covid-19 State of Emergency.
There is now a stand off between the Judiciary and the Caretaker Government; and it would seem that being Disrespectful of the Courts and Disregarding the Rule of Law – is the Real Crisis amidst us now.