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APIA (Samoa),May 23 — Samoa faced fresh political turmoil today with the parliamentary session expected to confirm the Pacific nation’s first change of government in almost 40 years suddenly cancelled without immediate explanation.
The order from head of state Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi came a day after he had cleared the way for parliament to sit tomorrow where opposition FAST Party leader Fiame Naomi Mata’afa had the numbers to be installed as Samoa’s first female prime minister.
With religious Samoa largely closed on Sundays, Sualauvi announced just before midnight Saturday that he was suspending parliament “for reasons that I will make known in due course”.
Samoa’s political future has been unclear since the April 9 general election which ended with FAST and the incumbent Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) locked at 25 seats each with one independent in the 51-seat parliament.
When the independent sided with FAST, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who has held the top job for 22 years, boosted his numbers by adding an extra MP to his party under provisions setting out the minimum quota of women in parliament.
He then persuaded Sualauvi to call a second election for May 21.
The courts overturned both measures and when a panel of appeal judges on Friday declined HRPP’s bid for a stay on the rulings, Sualauvi called for parliament to sit on Monday, only to then cancel the order the following day.
Malielegaoi has insisted the HRPP still has the numbers to lead the nation of 220,000 while Mata’afa has said she will challenge the latest decision in court and “will stand by the rule of law”. — AFP
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