We’ll resolve Samoa’s crisis using ‘Pacific way’: Puna


The Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna says they are using the “Pacific Way” to assist Samoa resolve its two-months-running constitutional crisis.

In his first talanoa session recently with the media from the region following his appointment, the former Cook Islands prime minister said they will use the “Pacific Way” and have offered their support to assist Samoa.

“We’re trying to deal with it in the Pacific Way,” Secretary-General Puna said.

“And we have made a media statement that I’m sure is well received, indicating that we are standing by to offer support when and if required by our friends.

“But our position is that we should allow the judicial process currently underway to take his course, because of our respect for the rule of law.”

According to SG Puna, both leaders of the Human Rights Protection Party and the Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) have assured they are prepared to respect the Court’s decision.

“And then when that process is complete and I believe it’s well on the way, then it’s also heartening to know that both leaders, [FAST. and [HRPP] have already indicated that they are prepared and committed to respecting the outcome of the judicial process.

“And that’s a really positive development.”

However, caretaker Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi remains defiant, despite assuring regional governments including the Suva-based Forum Secretariat that he and his party will respect the decisions of the Court.

In comments made on his party’s official Facebook page on Saturday night, the veteran politician scoffed at the appeal by the FAST for the Parliament to be convened, after the Appellate Court last Friday refuted claims that Tuilaepa and senior HRPP members have been peddling in recent weeks that the House cannot sit until the sixth woman MP is appointed.

“They wanted to understand the decision made a while back that said there should be six women [in Parliament] but the extra seat will only be invoked after the petitions and by-elections,” Tuilaepa said.

“Upon hearing this, it isn’t hard to understand. But it seems like it was very hard for FAST to understand and this is why they went back to ask. I am utterly shocked by this.

“I am shocked. It’s like them asking, can you please say that again? It’s like pursuing gossip.”

The Australian government, one of Samoa’s major donor partners, released a statement on Saturday urging Tuilaepa’s HRPP and the FAST to convene the Parliament so Samoa’s new government can be formed.

“We urge all parties to cooperate, with a view to convening the parliament and enabling the formation of a government,” reads a joint statement issued by Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development and the Pacific, Senators Marise Payne and Zed Seselja.

“This year Australia and Samoa mark 50 years of diplomatic relations, achieving much together and in the region.
“We look forward to continuing our cooperation with Samoa to strengthen our bilateral links and promote a stable, inclusive and prosperous region.”

The call by the Australian government marks a shift in Canberra’s position on the two-month-old political stalemate, which previously took a middle ground and called for all parties to respect Samoa’s democratic institutions and uphold the rule of law.