“Ex-Prime Minister has no status”: former Samoa AG Taulapapa

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The caretaker Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi should step down now because he “has no status”, says Samoa’s former Attorney General Taulapapa Brenda Heather-Latu.

The lawyer for the Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi [FAST] party said this during an interview with PMN Live on Thursday.

The interview was conducted a day after the Court of Appeal overturned a decision by the Supreme Court concluding the constitutionally mandated minimum proportion of women MPs under the Constitution of 10 per cent has the legal meaning of six, not five as earlier defined.

In detailing the ruling delivered on Wednesday, Taulapapa said the verdict confirms that the FAST party has the majority to govern the country.

“It basically confirms the outcome of the elections in April, which gave FAST 26 seats, and HRPP 25, giving FAST the majority to allow them to form Government,” she said.

Taulapapa believes that FAST has been looking forward to governing, but has been “prevented” from doing so since April this year.

“They have been keen since election night when the results came out,” she said.

“They’ve been keen since the 16 April when the Head of States declared the winners for the different 51 electorates.

“They have been keen right through and have been completed prevented from taking up the leadership of government by the ex-Prime Minister who won’t leave office.”

The timing of the appointment of Ali’imalemanu Alofa Tu’uau as an additional member [this has been declared unlawful by the Supreme Court] to make up the ten per cent of women parliamentarian was also premature, said Taulapapa.

Moreover, she said that the appointment of an additional woman reflected the “misuse and abuse of authority.”

“The appointment was done on the night before the Independent member [Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio] decided to support FAST. and also give them the majority, so the timing of it was clearly intended to prevent FAST from holding the majority, that has been declared unlawful and unconstitutional.

“But I think it’s a great reflection of the misuse and abuse of authority of those who are in power to prevent democracy from taking its true cause and the votes of the people to be honoured.”

Taulapapa did not mince her words and when discussing the legal status of the caretaker Prime Minister.

“This ex-Prime Minister apparently has no status,” she said.

“He has not been sworn in as a Member of Parliament so his status as someone he used to be, as the Prime Minister, expired on Monday 24 May when Parliament was convened and Fiame Naomi Mata’afa was appointed as the Prime Minister because they had the majority in Parliament.”

The Human Rights Protection Party [HRPP] has challenged the legality of the swearing-in ceremony by FAST and the case has been adjourned until 14 June to set a hearing date.

Asked what does that mean for the current state of the government and who is governing? Taulapapa said: “According to the cases, and to what was done last week and according to the court decisions on the 17 and 21 May, Parliament was convened last Monday, the Prime Minister was chosen and sworn in, and 26 Members of Parliament [from FAST] were sworn in, and Cabinet Ministers were appointed, that is the government of Samoa as of today.

“We have gone through eight court decisions in three weeks, in which FAST has been successful.

“Parliament was convened in accordance with directions of the courts and provisions of the constitution, that’s that leg.

“The only leg left is to take these people out of [the] offices that they’re no longer entitled to sit in.”

Taulapapa believes that the issue can be resolved through mutual discussions between the two leaders.

“Because of who we are and what we are, that that will be resolved through ‘soalaupule’ mutual discussion and dialogue.

“Soalaupule is when the leaders of our culture sit down and discuss a problem or an issue.

“And then through the exchange and respectful and chiefly manner, they come to an agreed outcome or decision which will meet the needs of all those who were gathered to discuss.

“So it’s an honourable and very important part of how we live our lives and how we make decisions for our culture.

“And I am hoping that that will be implied in its full extent to allow us to actually move on, and for FAST and the new Prime Minister to get on and govern.”

On Thursday evening, the leaders of the two parties met to discuss a solution for the current constitutional crisis in Samoa.

When asked when will Parliament meet again? Taulapapa said in response: “Well, the Head of States is required to act on the advice from the Prime Minister.

“We have a new Prime Minister; she will offer her advice as to when Parliament should convene next.”

Asked to elaborate on the verdict of the decision by the Court of Appeal on Wednesday and what it means for Samoa, Taulapapa said: “On 20 April, the Electoral Commissioner appointed an additional woman member, using a provision that was put into the constitution in 2016.

“FAST appealed that and it was successful in the Supreme Court. But the Attorney General and the HRPP appealed that decision and the result of that appeal was that the additional woman member that was added was declared void.

“The minimum number that is now set by the court of appeal in terms of interpretation of Article 44 (1A) at six (6) and further the exercise of the appointment of an additional woman.

“The court has said that the Electoral Commissioner has made the appointment too early and that the assessment on whether you need to appoint an additional woman could only take place, after the conclusion of all election petitions and also the by-elections.

“So they said that the time of when it was done was far too early at a time where it was not clear and curtained whether how many people were elected,” she said……

SOURCE: SAMOA OBSERVER/PACNEWS

The caretaker Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi should step down now because he “has no status”, says Samoa’s former Attorney General Taulapapa Brenda Heather-Latu.

The lawyer for the Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi [FAST] party said this during an interview with PMN Live on Thursday.

The interview was conducted a day after the Court of Appeal overturned a decision by the Supreme Court concluding the constitutionally mandated minimum proportion of women MPs under the Constitution of 10 per cent has the legal meaning of six, not five as earlier defined.

In detailing the ruling delivered on Wednesday, Taulapapa said the verdict confirms that the FAST party has the majority to govern the country.

“It basically confirms the outcome of the elections in April, which gave FAST 26 seats, and HRPP 25, giving FAST the majority to allow them to form Government,” she said.

Taulapapa believes that FAST has been looking forward to governing, but has been “prevented” from doing so since April this year.

“They have been keen since election night when the results came out,” she said.

“They’ve been keen since the 16 April when the Head of States declared the winners for the different 51 electorates.

“They have been keen right through and have been completed prevented from taking up the leadership of government by the ex-Prime Minister who won’t leave office.”

The timing of the appointment of Ali’imalemanu Alofa Tu’uau as an additional member [this has been declared unlawful by the Supreme Court] to make up the ten per cent of women parliamentarian was also premature, said Taulapapa.

Moreover, she said that the appointment of an additional woman reflected the “misuse and abuse of authority.”

“The appointment was done on the night before the Independent member [Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio] decided to support FAST. and also give them the majority, so the timing of it was clearly intended to prevent FAST from holding the majority, that has been declared unlawful and unconstitutional.

“But I think it’s a great reflection of the misuse and abuse of authority of those who are in power to prevent democracy from taking its true cause and the votes of the people to be honoured.”

Taulapapa did not mince her words and when discussing the legal status of the caretaker Prime Minister.

“This ex-Prime Minister apparently has no status,” she said.

“He has not been sworn in as a Member of Parliament so his status as someone he used to be, as the Prime Minister, expired on Monday 24 May when Parliament was convened and Fiame Naomi Mata’afa was appointed as the Prime Minister because they had the majority in Parliament.”

The Human Rights Protection Party [HRPP] has challenged the legality of the swearing-in ceremony by FAST and the case has been adjourned until 14 June to set a hearing date.

Asked what does that mean for the current state of the government and who is governing? Taulapapa said: “According to the cases, and to what was done last week and according to the court decisions on the 17 and 21 May, Parliament was convened last Monday, the Prime Minister was chosen and sworn in, and 26 Members of Parliament [from FAST] were sworn in, and Cabinet Ministers were appointed, that is the government of Samoa as of today.

“We have gone through eight court decisions in three weeks, in which FAST has been successful.

“Parliament was convened in accordance with directions of the courts and provisions of the constitution, that’s that leg.

“The only leg left is to take these people out of [the] offices that they’re no longer entitled to sit in.”

Taulapapa believes that the issue can be resolved through mutual discussions between the two leaders.

“Because of who we are and what we are, that that will be resolved through ‘soalaupule’ mutual discussion and dialogue.

“Soalaupule is when the leaders of our culture sit down and discuss a problem or an issue.

“And then through the exchange and respectful and chiefly manner, they come to an agreed outcome or decision which will meet the needs of all those who were gathered to discuss.

“So it’s an honourable and very important part of how we live our lives and how we make decisions for our culture.

“And I am hoping that that will be implied in its full extent to allow us to actually move on, and for FAST and the new Prime Minister to get on and govern.”

On Thursday evening, the leaders of the two parties met to discuss a solution for the current constitutional crisis in Samoa.

When asked when will Parliament meet again? Taulapapa said in response: “Well, the Head of States is required to act on the advice from the Prime Minister.

“We have a new Prime Minister; she will offer her advice as to when Parliament should convene next.”

Asked to elaborate on the verdict of the decision by the Court of Appeal on Wednesday and what it means for Samoa, Taulapapa said: “On 20 April, the Electoral Commissioner appointed an additional woman member, using a provision that was put into the constitution in 2016.

“FAST appealed that and it was successful in the Supreme Court. But the Attorney General and the HRPP appealed that decision and the result of that appeal was that the additional woman member that was added was declared void.

“The minimum number that is now set by the court of appeal in terms of interpretation of Article 44 (1A) at six (6) and further the exercise of the appointment of an additional woman.

“The court has said that the Electoral Commissioner has made the appointment too early and that the assessment on whether you need to appoint an additional woman could only take place, after the conclusion of all election petitions and also the by-elections.

“So they said that the time of when it was done was far too early at a time where it was not clear and curtained whether how many people were elected,” she said.

SOURCE: SAMOA OBSERVER/PACNEWS