Conflicts & War

Samoa’s first female PM sworn in amid deepening political crisis

Sydney, Australia, May 24 (EFE).- Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, the newly elected prime minister of Samoa, was sworn in on Monday in a symbolic act outside parliament after the police blocked the doors of the building amid a power dispute in the Polynesian island nation.

Acting Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, who has held the post since 1998, refused to cede power, insisting on fresh elections in the country of 200,000 people.

Only the head of state could call parliamentary meetings and swear people in, Tuilaepa said, according to Radio New Zealand.

He also accused the election-winning FAST party of leading a coup and vowed to take action against them.

The symbolic swearing-in ceremony took place after the Samoa police blocked the doors of parliament on Monday morning before the new government was to take an oath.

Fiame Naomi Mata’afa becomes the first woman to lead the country, marking the maiden political change in nearly 40 years in the Pacific island nation.

Samoa has been in a political crisis after the Apr. 9 elections ended in a tie.

The opposition party and the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) secured 25 seats each, leaving the decision with an independent politician, who announced his support for Mata’afa.

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

The Supreme Court rejected the move, prompting Head of State Va’aletoa Sualauvi II to call for new elections, a decision also reversed by the court.

On Sunday, the court overturned a new attempt by Sualauvi to postpone the parliamentary session.

The political crisis in Samoa has prompted neighboring Australia and New Zealand to call for the rule of law to be respected.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that her government would not intervene. EFE


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