Extra seat thrown out, FAST wins Samoa election

The Faatuatua ile Atua Samoa ua Tasi party leader, Fiame Naomi Mataafa Photo: RNZ Pacific/Tipi Autagavaia

The Supreme Court in Samoa has thrown out the electoral office’s decision to appoint an extra woman member of parliament.

It means the decision breaks a month-long deadlock from the April election, handing the newcomer FAST party a majority.

The electoral office last month added the extra seat purportedly to meet a provision in the constitution that 10 percent of seats are reserved for women. The five elected women’s seats corresponded to 9.8 percent of the 51 member house.

That extra seat was appointed to the caretaker HRPP government, creating a 26-all deadlock.

But the Supreme Court today returned a unanimous verdict ruling that decision was unconstitutional.

The constitution describes the women’s representation for its 51 electoral constituencies as “a minimum of 10% of the Members of the Legislative Assembly specified under clause (1) which for the avoidance of doubt is presently 5”.

However, the decision to appoint the extra women’s seat was the premise for the head of state’s controversial call for a snap election, scheduled for Friday.

Whether that call was constitutional is to be ruled on this afternoon by the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, following this morning’s court decision, FAST’s member for Falelatai and Samatau said the party is trying to have parliament recalled so it can declare a majority.

The MP, Pa’u Roy Ausage, said the party wanted parliament convened as soon as possible.

“The legislative clerk should be initiating the process in order for parliament to convene now that (the) FAST party clearly has the majority number of faipule, or members of parliament, to convene a parliament.”

The Head of State’s call for Friday’s snap-election now becomes moot, according to Pa’u.

“But we’ll just wait (to hear) what the judges will say.”

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