The surprise order comes two days before Parliament swears that opposition leader Fiame Naomi Mata’afa would be Samoa’s first prime minister.
Samoa has plunged into new political turmoil after its head of state abruptly canceled a parliamentary session that he hoped would confirm the nation’s first change of government in the Pacific in nearly 40 years.
The order of Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II on Saturday afternoon came two days before Samoa’s newly elected parliament convened and swore in opposition to FAST party leader Fiame Naomi Mata’afa as the country’s first female prime minister. .
In a brief proclamation posted on Facebook, Sualauvi said he was suspending parliament “until the moment it is announced and for reasons I will make known in due course.”
FAST said it would ask the Supreme Court to overturn the order on Sunday.
The decision of the appointed head of state was the latest turn in a political crisis that erupted after the April 9 general election ended in a 25-25 draw between the FAST party and the current Protection Party. of Human Rights (HRPP), with an independent candidate.
The election commissioner intervened, appointing another HRPP candidate, supposedly to comply with the constitutional provisions that set the minimum quota for women in parliament.
The independent candidate, meanwhile, opted to go with FAST, getting 26-26.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who has held the top office for 22 years, convinced Sualauvi to call a second election for May 21.
FAST appealed and the Supreme Court last week ruled against both the nominated candidate and plans for the new elections, restoring Mata’afa’s party to a 26-25 majority.
When a group of appellate judges on Friday rejected HRPP’s offer to suspend those sentences, Sualauvi called for parliament to sit down on Monday, then cancel the order on Saturday night.
Radio New Zealand said Sualauvi’s latest proclamation raises constitutional issues “as parliament is to be convened within 45 days of the election” and “any session beyond Monday appears to be breached”.
Malielegaoi, meanwhile, has insisted that HRPP still has the figures to lead the nation of 220,000, while Mata’afa has said he will challenge the final decision in the courts.
Daughter of Samoa’s first independent prime minister, Mata’afa was previously a Malielegaoi MP and split from the government last year after opposing changes to Samoa’s constitution and judicial system.
The 64-year-old said she would “maintain the rule of law.”