Samoa's head of state calls for second election amid deadlock, but critics say it's 'wrong, unlawful'

Samoa's head of state is calling for a second election to bring an end to a month-long deadlock in parliament. 

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Both the HRPP and FAST parties hold 26 seats each. Source: 1 NEWS

Since the country's election on April 9, the incumbent Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) and the newcomer FAST Party have been tied at 26 seats each. 

However, the FAST Party is rejecting Tuimalealiifano Va'aletoa Sualauvi II’s call for the second general election on May 21. 

The party said he doesn’t have the constitutional power to call a new election yet. 

"These proposed actions are wrong and unlawful. It also threatens and undermines the rule of law," FAST Party leader Fiame Naomi Mata'afa told RNZ

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. 

"It is that specific time that the head of state can confirm the swearing in of a new government or can confirm that no one and no party has the majority within the parliament.”

University of Auckland academic Damon Salesa, who specialises in the Pacific, noted the call for a new election comes before a Supreme Court challenge scheduled for today, which would see the FAST Party contest the creation of an additional parliamentary seat.

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“It’s a controversial call. There isn’t a basis for this,” University of Auckland academic Damon Salesa told Breakfast. Source: Breakfast

"It's a controversial call because there doesn't seem to be a basis in the Samoan constitution to make this call this early," he told Breakfast.

He said many Samoans felt it was "unusual timing", but added there hadn't been evidence the head of state was favouring the caretaker Prime Minister.

Samoa's constitution calls for a minimum of 10 per cent of the positions be held by women. The move, if upheld, would give HRPP 26 seats because the seat was allocated to the female candidate who came closest to winning an electorate. 

The seat's creation had contributed to the deadlock as independent MP Tuala Tevaga Iosefo Ponifasio had decided to join with FAST to give it 26 seats.

Fiame had asked why the head of state hadn't waited for the Supreme Court's decision before acting.