FAST swearing-in unlawful but Parliament must sit: Supreme court

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The Samoa Supreme Court has declared the swearing in of the Faatuatua ile Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) party on the lawns outside Parliament was unconstitutional but has also ordered Parliament to convene within seven days from today, a decisive moment in the nation’s power crisis.

The Court has warned that any attempts to obstruct the Legislative Assembly meeting will amount to contempt of Court and Parliament and subsequently will force the Court to validate the invoked principle of necessity “so that the business of the nation can proceed”.

The decision from the court follows an application from the Attorney General to stop the legal effect of an impromptu swearing in ceremony held by FAST on 24 May.

The court has also made several orders instructing the Attorney General to advice all actors in the Constitution to comply with the Supreme Law requirement for the Legislative Assembly to meet.

The decision bars the FAST party from legally using their swearing-in oaths from that day but found they can be reinstated should there continue to be obstructed to Parliament’s meeting.

Attorney General, Savalenoa Mareva Betham-Annandale sought the interim orders arguing the ad-hoc session that took place outside Parliament was unlawful. She relied on a constitutional role of the Head of State and other bureaucrats to carry out the ceremony but did not participate. FAST claimed the move was to uphold a mandatory requirement under the Constitution for parliament to convene within 45 days after April’s election day.

Some 26 elected member of parliament from FAST were forced to meet outside the Parliament lawn after finding the House locked on the last day the Legislative Assembly was supposed to meet. On the other hand, the Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) boycotted the meeting calling for fresh elections to resolve the political impasse.

In the absence of the Head of State and others who did not turn up on the day FAST said it called other individuals relying on the legal principle of necessity to convene Parliament.

Justice Vui Clarence Nelson, Justice Lesatele Rapi Vaai and Justice Fepuleai Ameperosa Roma presided the matter.

SOURCE: SAMOA OBSERVER/PACNEWS