Samoa’s longest serving Prime Minister faces citation for contempt of court

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Samoa caretaker Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi was Tuesday served to appear in Court next week, to face a motion that he and others be cited with contempt of Court for boycotting the convening of Parliament on Monday 14 May 2021.

The Court action is a response to a motion by FAST – Faatuatua i Le Atua Samoa ua Tasi party – to also have Leaupepe Toleafoa Faafisi, the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly and the Attorney General, cited for contempt of Court.

In a symbolic demonstration to uphold the rule of Law 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 on Monday 24th May – the 45th day since Samoa’s 9th April general election.

Samoa’s Head of State Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II had issued a Proclamation for the XVIIth Parliament of Samoa to convene at 9:30am on Monday 24 May 2021. However after over 500 invitations had gone out and the programme distributed, the head of State then issued a second Proclamation to suspend the opening of Parliament “until such time as to be announced and for reasons that I will make known in due course”.

A special in Chambers sitting of the Court resulted in Court Orders that declared the Proclamation to suspend the opening of Parliament as unlawful. The same Orders upheld the first Proclamation of the Head of State for Parliament to convene as required by Samoa’s Constitution within 45 days of an election.

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 the Head of State.

There was a stand-off at Mulinuu that Monday morning when the doors of Parliament House remained locked, and Clerk of the Legislative Assembly Tiatia Graeme Tualaulelei made to follow a Public Notice issued the Sunday night before from the desk of “The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly” signed by Samoa’s former Speaker, Leaupepe Toleafoa Faafisi.

Tiatia Graeme Tualaulelei apologised to the FAST party leader that morning , and conveyed that their position is based on the latest Proclamation issued by the Head of State – referring to the Proclamation declared unlawful by the Supreme Court of Samoa.
On Sunday evening after the Court orders were made known, Tuilaepa Sailele spoke from the TV1 studio to publicly condone the Court decision and stated that he and members of the Human Rights Protection Party refuse to attend a swearing in.

At the time of the 09 April general elections, Tuilaepa was the second longest serving incumbent Prime Minister in the world, behind Cambodia’s Hun Sen. He has been Samoa’s Prime Minister since Tofilau Eti Alesana stepped down in November 1998 and a Member of Parliament for Lepa since 1980.

SOURCE: SAMOA GLOBAL NEWS/PACNEWS