Conflicts & War

Samoa police blocks swearing-in of new government

Sydney, Australia, May 24 (EFE).- Police in Samoa on Monday blocked the doors of parliament, where the government of Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, the first woman to lead the country, was scheduled to be sworn in marking the first political change in nearly 40 years in this Pacific island nation.

Samoa has been mired in a political crisis after the results of the Apr. 9 elections ended in a tie, with the opposition party FAST and the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) securing 25 seats each, leaving the decision in the hands of an independent politician, who announced his support for Mata’afa.

The results led to several legal disputes after the Electoral Commission assigned a new seat to the HRPP, which has been in power since 1982, to maintain the proportion of seats for women.

The move was rejected by the Supreme Court, which led the Head of State to call for new elections, a decision also reversed by the court.

On Sunday, the court overturned a new attempt by the Head of State to postpone the parliamentary session.

On Monday, the country’s acting prime minister, Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, who has held the post since 1998, refused once again to cede power and insisted that new elections be held during a press conference broadcast on Facebook.

After being locked out of the parliament building on Monday, the elected FAST legislators gathered outside to express their disagreement with the situation, according to images released by the opposition party.

FAST spokesperson Lance Apulu denounced the blocking of Mata’afa’s inauguration as a bloodless “coup”, Radio New Zealand reported.

The political crisis in Samoa has prompted the neighboring Australia and New Zealand to call for the rule of law to be respected, although New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that her government will not intervene.

Political division is unusual in this country, considered one of the most stable nations in the Pacific region and inhabited by almost 200,000 inhabitants.

In recent years, the opposition has accused the prime minister, who claims he has been “appointed by God”, of undemocratic practices and blamed him for mismanagement of the measles outbreak in 2019 that caused 83 deaths. EFE


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