Samoa’s Supreme Court overturns the head of state’s attempt to overturn the April election results, paving the way for the opposition to form a government.
Fiame Naomi Mataafa is on the verge of becoming Samoa’s first female prime minister, after the Pacific nation’s supreme court helped break a political stalemate a month after the fiercely contested April elections.
Samoa’s Supreme Court on Monday afternoon overturned an attempt by head of state Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II to overturn election results, local media reported.
The higher court also separately rejected the post-election creation of an additional parliamentary seat by the election commission that briefly gave the majority to the current government.
Judicial decisions pave the way for Mataafa’s FAST party to form a government, ending the government of Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who has struggled to hold power after ruling for more than 20 years, making him one of the leaders. with the oldest in the world.
It was not immediately clear whether there are legislative or legal avenues open in Malielegaoi to challenge Mataafa, who now has a meager majority in the 51-member parliament.
FAST, in a statement on social media, said that the “unanimous verdict reached on Monday by a group of Supreme Court judges the FAST Party formed the majority to form a government with 26 seats for its rivals, the 25 of the Human Rights Protection Party “.
The Malielegaoi government did not immediately respond to questions Monday.
In the capital Apia, supporters of Mataafa, dressed in red, celebrated legal decisions by singing outside the courthouse, a video showed.
Mataafa is a former deputy prime minister who stepped down from the government last year after opposing changes to Samoa’s constitution and judicial system.
Malielegaoi has also faced criticism in recent years for his handling of one measles crisis in 2019 which killed 83, mostly young people, and the government’s close relationship with China.
The ruling HRPP has been in power since 1982, apart from a brief coalition period between 1986 and 1987 and Malielegaoi has held the top office for 22 years.
Samoa, with a population of 220,000, gained independence in 1962 after nearly 50 years as protectorate of New Zealand.
The Pacific nation closed its borders in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic and has prevented widespread community transmission of COVID-19 infections.