A deadlock in Samoa’s Parliament has been broken, with the Supreme Court ruling the appointment of an additional MP unconstitutional, giving newcomer FAST Party the majority to form a Government.
It comes after a deadlock lasting more than a month, which most recently saw the incumbent Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) and the newcomer FAST Party tied at 26 seats each.
The Samoa Observer reported the panel of justices of the Supreme Court had come to a unanimous verdict that the appointment of Aliimalemanu Alofa Tuuau for the HRPP was unconstitutional. This leaves HRPP with 25 seats.
Samoa's constitution calls for a minimum of 10 per cent of the positions be held by women. The move, had it been upheld, would have given HRPP 26 seats because the seat was allocated to Tuuau, the female candidate who came closest to winning an electorate.
But, FAST mounted a legal challenge against the Electoral Commissioner for activating that part of the constitution. The Commissioner initially said there wasn’t a need to invoke the provision.
Earlier this month, Samoa's head of state tried to call for a second election to break the deadlock.
FAST said the head of state didn't have the constitutional power to call a new election yet.
Party leader Fiame Naomi Mata'afa noted that according to constitutional protocol, the head of state should call Parliament by the 45th day after the election. At this point, he would confirm whether a majority Government had been formed, or a deadlock remained.
Incumbent Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has been in power since 1998.