Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi will appoint a Deputy Prime Minister instead of the position being put to a caucus vote.
Contrary to claims that the position of Deputy Prime Minister, currently occupied by Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo, will be voted upon, the Whip of the Human Rights Protection Party, Peseta Vaifou Tevaga said this will not be the case.
“The Prime Minister appoints his Deputy just like what is defined under the law,” Peseta told the Sunday Samoan, adding that the decision is in line with party procedures.
Peseta did not specify which law he was referring to.
But with the General Election result declared official by the Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi in a public notice yesterday, the appointment will be made sometime this week before Parliament’s first session on Friday.
Peseta also rubbished suggestions that the Prime Minister’s position might be put to a vote.
He said the H.R.P.P has already unanimously agreed for Tuilaepa to continue as Prime Minister.
“The outcome of that meeting goes in line with the law which says that whoever has the support of the majority as the leader of the party is the Prime Minister,” he said.
“So there will not be another meeting to vote on the position of Prime Minister, it’s done. But Fonotoe still remains as the Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister and Fiame is the new Deputy Leader (for H.R.P.P.).”
Peseta would not speculate on who the front-runners are for the position of Deputy Prime Minister.
But the Sunday Samoan understands that Fonotoe is one of them.
Fonotoe lost out in the vote for the Deputy H.R.P.P leader position last week. He and Lautafi Fio Purcell, who is another candidate for Deputy P.M., lost in the first rounds of voting.
The final decision then came down to a battle between Fiame Naomi Mata’afa and Faumuina Tiatia Liuga. Fiame won the vote 21-19. Seven other members of the H.R.P.P caucus were reportedly not present during the vote. A source told the Sunday Samoan that this is an issue of contention within the party as they continue their camp down at Petesa.
Another issue that is causing much tension is the question of who would be appointed as Cabinet Ministers. At the end this week, Prime Minister Tuilaepa will unveil his new Cabinet line up.
According to the Constitution section 32, the appointment of the Prime Minister is given to whoever commands the confidence of the majority.
In section 32 (2) “the Head of State shall appoint as Prime Minister to preside over cabinet a member of parliament who commands the confidence of a majority of the Members of Parliament.
“(b) The Head of State shall, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint not fewer than eight nor more than twelve other Members of Parliament to be Ministers;
(ba) The Head of State shall, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint one of the Ministers appointed under sub clause (b) to be Deputy Prime Minister.”
When Fiame was elected last week, asked if the appointment would mean she would automatically become the Deputy Prime Minister, she said there are technicalities in terms of the position.
“This appointment (D.P.M) is a party appointment,” she explained. “But the Prime Minister has indicated he would of course take into consideration the vote of the party.
“I think it’s an issue that needs to be aligned. Just as our leader is the Prime minister, I think it’s the most sensible thing that the Deputy Leader also becomes the Deputy Prime Minister.
“But those are the technical aspects that need to be aligned…”
As for the position of Prime Minister, with the H.R.P.P. returning to Parliament with such force, Fiame said “we would have to question our sanity if we change our leader.”