2pm Monday 24 May 2021, Mulinuu Apia Samoa. The Samoa Judiciary sent a powerful message this morning amidst the historical stand-off between the three branches of Samoa’s Government.
The Honourable Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese, together with all members of Samoa’s Judiciary walked up to the doors of Parliament House expecting the XVIIth Parliament of Samoa to convene this morning, as ruled by the Courts in a decision set down yesterday afternoon.
Just minutes before 9:30am the Samoa Judiciary escorted by Police Commissioner Su’a Fuiavailiili Egon Keil, walked in solidarity from the Courthouse at Mulinuu towards Samoa’s Parliament House.
A large crowd seated inside tents let out a loud cheer as the Judiciary led by the Chief Justice walked past them, towards the front doors of Parliament House.
The Chief Justice purposefully reached out his hands to open the doors of Samoa’s Parliament House. Finding them locked, he turned, paused for a second, and then made his way back through the crowd towards the Courthouse.
Every member of Samoa’s Judiciary walked in solidarity behind Chief Justice Satiu, as the people of Samoa looked on.
Their Honors the Justices of the Supreme Court, Judges of the District Court, Judges of the Lands & Titles Courts as well as the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration took the historical walk towards Parliament, in an attempt to attend the official opening of Samoa’s XVIIth Legislative Assembly.
The symbolic stance to follow the rule of law taken by the Judiciary sent a strong message to the other two pillars of Samoa’s democratic government; that they stand by the rule of law, enacted by Parliament, set down by the Courts, and implemented by the Executive.
Elected members of FAST and hundreds of invited guests arrived well before 9am at Mulinuu, and sat under a tent infront of Parliament House, awaiting the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly.
Their position was to follow the rule of law as set down by Orders of the Court which yesterday declared a proclamation to suspend the opening of Parliament, as unlawful.
The same Orders upheld a previous proclamation by the Head of State – directing Parliament to convene as required by Samoa’s Constitution within 45 days of an election; that day being today Monday 24th May 2021.
The Supreme Court also specifically 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.
There was a stand-off at Mulinuu this morning when the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly Tiatia Graeme Tualaulelei turned up to say their office has chosen to follow a Public Notice issued late last night from the desk of “The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly” signed by retired Speaker, Leaupepe Toleafoa Faafisi.
Tiatia Graeme Tualaulelei apologised to FAST party leader Hon Fiame Naomi Mataafa, and conveyed that their position is based on the latest proclamation issued by the Head of State – referring to the very proclamation declared unlawful by the Supreme Court of Samoa.
Through the exchange of Samoan oratory between two matai, Fiame challenged the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, and told Tiatia that as Officials, their job is to follow and uphold the rule of law.
The Court has had to deliver decisions on various challenges brought by the FAST Party against actions taken and decisions made by the Head of State, the Electoral Commissioner and the Attorney General of Samoa since the country went to the polls in April. Three of those decisions have ruled against writs issued by the Head of State of Samoa.