Samoa’s caretaker PM Tuilaepa accused of desperate attack on rule of law

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Samoa’s caretaker HRPP administration and its leader Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi have been accused of an unprecedented attack on the rule of law.

The call comes from the winner of April’s election, majority party FAST, which has raised concern about what it described as “disturbing developments” in recent days.

This includes the HRRP lodging a complaint to the Judiciary Services Commission, accusing the Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese of incompetence.

It comes as the country’s Court of Appeal is due to sit on Friday to consider the legality of the adhoc swearing-in of the FAST government in late May

FAST leader Fiame Naomi Mata’afa held a press conference where she spoke about what her party equates to a brazen attack on the judiciary.

Mata’afa denied HRPP claims that she and fellow FAST members have been meeting with the Chief Justice and other judges.

“I can say unequivocably that contrary to HRPP’s lies and mistruths, neither I nor La’auli nor any member of FAST has met with the Chief Justice or any other Supreme Court Judge, in secret or in private.”

The Judiciary Services Comission sat Tuesday to consider the HRPP’s comlpaint, with a decision yet to be reached on the accusation of incompetence.

“It is concerning that the caretaker is now seeking to suspend or remove the Chief Justice while a sitting of the Court of Appeal is pending this Friday on highly important matters.

“The attack on the Chief Justice is not only an attack on the Judiciary and Samoa’s court system, but also a direct attack on the Samoa’s Constitution and the laws which protect, guide and allow us to live together in peace. In short it is a direct assault on the Rule of Law as it operates in Samoa. Remove the law and the Courts and we are left with no protection from a dictator and his tyranny, where one man decides how we live, and how we die,” Mata’afa said.

It’s now over three months since Samoa’s national election, and Tuilaepa shows little sign that he is willing to relinquish power despite the fact that his party has lost its majority and has only 19 seats to FAST’s 26.

“We have seen the unconscionable and dirty tactics played out by a man who refuses to accept defeat and now in the last desperate attempt to retain power, we have their attack on the rule of law.

“The caretaker government continues to cling on to power as the country is under the Covid-19 pandemic State of Emergency and have already used unconstitutional proclamations by the Head of State to retain power and continue to rule the country.

“Under these challenging times, I and the FAST Party proclaim our continuing support of the rule of law and our Judiciary as the last bastion and our nations last hope to defend and restore our democracy, our freedom and our country’s dignity,” said Mata’afa.

Under the Constitution, the judiciary is the only legal body and the authority and power to interpret and render final pronouncements on the Constitution and the law in Samoa.

SOURCE: RNZ PACIFIC/PACNEWS