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Deadline for legal arguments approaching as wrangling continues in Samoan election

Samoa’s election deadlock is now at the centre of legal challenges – with both political parties holding 26 seats each.

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Samoa's constitution states 10% of all seats need to be held by women, but the election result is below that threshold, so an extra seat has been created and given to the next woman in line. Source: 1 NEWS

The Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) party, led by Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, have until this afternoon to submit legal arguments disputing the creation of an extra parliamentary seat.

The seat, which was announced by the Electoral Commissioner after the election, was created to meet Samoa’s constitutional requirement that 10 per cent of all MPs must be women.

The election result put women MP’s just under that threshold.

A Supreme Court panel of three judges met yesterday to hear the FAST party’s submissions challenging the extra seat but weren’t satisfied with the legal arguments.

The Party’s lawyers were given a deadline of this afternoon to resubmit its grounds on why it thinks the extra seat is unconstitutional and unlawful.

Auckland Unversity’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (Pacific) Toeolesulusulu Damon Salesa says there is a legal argument for that extra seat but most experts believe the decision should have been made by the Supreme Court rather than the office of the Electoral Commissioner.

“The seemliness of releasing that decision by the Electoral Commissioner after 9pm just has raised some flags amongst some people and wasn’t best practise clearly,” he said.

He says while there will be a strong opposition for the first time in decades, there will also be a thin majority which would make any government nervous.

If the deadlock is not broken then caretaker Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi says there is the real possibility the country may have to go to the polls again.