PUNA, Commonwealth speak on Samoa

As Samoa’s political impasse drags on, Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna says he’s confident “all parties will work together to convene parliament as soon as possible, in respect of the democratic values which have served Samoa and its people so well over the decades.”

“Recent political developments continue to test the stability and relationship between Samoa’s governing institutions,” Puna says.

Citing the Forum’s Biketawa Declaration 2000 which states that while PIF members respect the principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of another member, they recognise the importance of “upholding democratic processes and institutions which reflect national and local circumstances, including the peaceful transfer of power, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, and just and honest government.”

Meanwhile the Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, says she is “deeply saddened” by the events in Samoa, and has called on political leaders there to uphold the rule of law and adhere to the values and principles set out in the Commonwealth Charter. 

“I call on all parties to respect the rule of law, and the role of each of the branches of government to carry out their respective constitutionally mandated responsibilities.

“I have been encouraged that both parties have sought recourse for their grievances in the courts and I urge all to accept the decisions of the courts in their entirety. Adherence to the rule of law must be uniform and universal. This speaks to the spirit of equity and justice which is at the heart of good governance.”

The Samoa Observer quotes Samoa caretaker Prime Minister as remaining confident that his Human Rights Protection Party’s will prevail, despite losing a further five seats in post-election challenges. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi believes they will claim all the seats back in the subsequent by-elections.

 There are continued concerns Tuilaepa is undermining Samoa’s court system, and in particular, Chief Justice, Satiu Sativa Perese. 

Last week Samoa’s Supreme Court ruled that the ongoing turmoil  may well now justify the operation of the doctrine of necessity to validate the events of the 24 May 2021 swearing-in outside the chambers of Samoa Parliament, so that the business of lawful governance of the nation can proceed.

Members of Fiame Naomi Mataʻafa’s party Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi party were sworn into parliament on May 24 but Tuilaepa is challenging this decision and refusing to concede defeat.