Speaker officially declares seats vacant
The Speaker of the House, Leaupepe Fa'afisi Toleafoa, informed Members of Parliament that former independent M.P.s Olo Fiti Vaai and Faumuina Wayne Fong’s seats had officially been vacated on Tuesday.
Leaupepe said the two M.P.’s seats were vacated in line with Parliament’s standing orders on Tuesday morning.
“We met and they informed me officially that their decision was endorsed by their respective Constituencies,” the Speaker said.
“I also made it clear my decision in accordance with Parliament standing orders.
“As leaders, we should follow rules put in place by Parliament."
Olo and Faumuina fell foul of anti-party switching legislation when they pledged to contest next year’s election for the Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party last month.
This week Olo told the Samoa Observer they will file a motion before the Supreme Court for a declaratory order to confirm the status of their membership in Parliament.
The motion will be filed by their lawyer, Mauga Precious Chang, to challenge the order from the Speaker.
Olo argued that the decision did not follow proper procedures.
The former M.P. said the Court has the authority to interpret the Constitution and they are questioning whether the action taken to remove them from Parliament was legal.
Olo referred to Article 47 of the Constitution relating to decisions on questions of membership in Parliament.
Article 47 states: “All questions that may arise as to the right of any person to be or to remain a Member of Parliament shall be referred to and determined by the Supreme Court”.
It is under this section of the Constitution that Olo and Faumuina are taken to clarify if their seats were being voided in accordance with the legal process.
In Parliament on Tuesday Leaupepe said this is not the first time seats have been vacated.
"It also occurred during the 14th Parliamentary term in 2010 where independent seats were vacated when they opted to register for a political party,” the Speaker said.
The Speaker said three seats were vacated in accordance with Standing Orders section 6 (a) which states that any member who takes the Oath of Allegiance before he or she is notified under a party as required by (2)(c) of this Order shall be recognised as an independent member for the duration of the Parliamentary term.
He noted that section 6 (b) states that: any member who ceases to be a member of a party under which he was notified as required by (2)(c) shall be recognised as an independent member for the rest of the parliamentary term.
Leaupepe thanked Olo and Faumuina for their time in Parliament.