Samoa MPs suspended indefinitely

Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi

Leader of the Opposition HRPP Party and Samoa’s longest serving Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Maliegaoi and HRPP Party Secretary, Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi have been suspended indefinitely from Parliament.

Samoa’s Parliament Tuesday upheld the findings and recommendations of the Privileges and Ethics Committee that found the two Members of contempt of Parliament and breaching parliamentary privileges. 

The committee investigated the complaint filed by the Deputy Prime Minister, Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio that highlighted certain aspects of Parliamentary privilege and contempt of parliament were breached. 

The pair was found guilty of contempt of court in March this year for statements made which were found to have scandalised the courts, the judiciary and therefore undermined public confidence in the court system. 

They have also made statements that insult the Legislative Assembly of Samoa by suggesting that the new government is in some way illegitimate, arising from a ‘coup detat’ by the Judiciary. 

When the Committees Report was tabled for discussion Tuesdsay, HRPP’s Deputy Leader Lauofo Pierre Lauofo requested the discussion be postponed until the Party Leader is back explaining that he was in isolation just having returned from an overseas trip. 

The complainant was also unable to attend as he had been tested positive for COVID-19 according to the Prime Minister. 

The debate proceeded after the Committee Chairman, Valasi Luapitofanua Tafito Selesele clarified that the committee had a three hour long zoom discussion with the HRPP Leader on top of his written statement that the Committee based its decision on. 

The Opposition MPs spoke on forgiveness and starting afresh and to consider Tuilaepa’s long service as the country’s Prime Minister. 

Samoan Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa emphasised, the whole issue is restoring the dignity and integrity of parliament which have been beached. 

At the end of the six hour long debate, Parliament approved the Report and Tuilaepa and Lealailepule are now suspended indefinitely without pay. 

Samoa’s Parliament meets next Tuesday to table the Government’s Main Budget 2022/2023.