The Faatuatua I le Atua Samoa ua Tasi – FAST party leader, Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa has embraced the Supreme Court decision delivered Monday.
Mata’afa told the media that she viewed the decision as another chance given by the Court to follow the legal process of what should have been done in the normal process after any general election.
“We see this as an opportunity for relevant Government entities responsible for the convening of Parliament to carry out their constitutional and legal functions,” said Mata’afa.
These entities referred in the court decision as “relevant actors” include the Head of State, Clerk of the Legislative Assembly and the Attorney General, to follow the Courts orders and prepare the convening of Parliament next week.
“It is also a way to correct the legal process of things upset by the many hurdles and obstructions since the general elections on 09 April 2021,” she said.
The Supreme Court’s decision Monday declared the convening of Parliament and the swearing in ceremony carried out by FAST under a tent outside Parliament on 24 May 2021 as unlawful, unconstitutional and therefore void and of no effect.
But the Court said it was “reasonably clear that the Executive arm of Government has deliberately and unlawfully prolonged the calling of Parliament for plainly political reasons. In so doing it has ignored various rulings of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal of the country leading to a constitutional breach which can only be repaired once Parliament meets.”
The decision also said that any attempt to undermine or subvert this process to convene Parliament, is tantamount to a contempt for which appropriate action will lie.
The Court ordered for Parliament to meet within seven days; and failing which, the Court will revisit the swearing in ceremony of 24 May that was carried out under the principles of necessity as it was the last day for elected MPs to be sworn after the general election.
According to Mata’afa, the decision now reverts the whole process back to the beginning.
“I pray to use this opportunity to return Samoa to its normal process after election as it should be. The people have spoken and the party with the majority number should be allowed to lead the country,” she said.
It is now up to the Head of State to convene Parliament and swear-in a new Speaker who in turn will swear-in all MPs and a new government.
“The Constitution speaks of the Head of States duties and responsibilities; notwithstanding a caretaker government’s advice,” Mata’afa said.
The current process is after the general elections, the party leaders submit to the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly the list of their MPs and the party with the majority will inform the Clerk of their appointed Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
Mata’afa confirmed writing to the Head of State following last Friday’s court decision which in her view, is clear on the convening of parliament. Ahead of Mondays’ decision, she said that whichever way the Court rules, parliament still had to convene.
The caretaker Government had already laid out the budget as the Ministry of Finance’s statutory function.
Mata’afa said one of the pressing needs is to ensure the government functions and make its statutory payments now it’s the end of the financial year and Parliament has yet to meet to pass the annual budget.
“But the budget needs parliament to endorse and pass it and why parliament needs to meet,” said Mata’afa.
If for some reason Parliament still cannot meet within the seven days as the court ruled, Mata’afa pointed back to the court decision to revisit the swearing-in under the doctrine of necessity conducted on 24 May 2021.
Meanwhile, a legal expert says Samoa’s Supreme Court has given caretaker Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi one final chance to uphold the rule of law and convene Parliament within seven days’ time.
Dylan Asafo a law lecturer at The University of Auckland said the court is essentially giving the caretaker Prime Minster, the Attorney General and the Human Rights Protection Party one final chance to comply.
“We see the court appealing to a sense of decency and the rule of law – it’s a decision of hope that there will be a shift in mindset in the HRP Party and supporters that will turn the tide,” he told ABC.
But the caretaker Prime Minister told the Samoa Observer newspaper that Parliament cannot convene until all its members are present, with one of Parliament’s 52 seats vacant because of an election petition
SOURCE: TALAMUA ONLINE/ABC/PACNEWS