Fresh election preparations folded

Preparations for the fresh election scheduled this week have been folded and public holidays to accommodate the polling day are subsequently cancelled.

In a notice from the Ministry of Commerce Industry and Labour issued Tuesday evening, it confirmed the cancellation of public holidays that had been declared for the 21 May General Election.  

A call to the Office of the Electoral Commission also confirmed that the authority has halted their preparations for pre-polling on Wednesday and Friday’s main polling day. 

It was not possible to get a comment from the Electoral Commissioner, Faimalomatumua Mathew Lemisio. 

An email was sent to Faimalo to enquire if his office has received a writ from the Head of State to revoke the declared second election. 

Meanwhile, the M.C.I.L. notice made reference to a public notice from the Office of the Electoral Commissioner to revoke the General election for 21 May 2021. 

“[The] public holidays scheduled for Thursday 20th and Friday 21st of May 2021 are now cancelled,” the M.C.I.L. Chief Executive Officer, Pulotu Lyndon Chu Ling said. 

It has been two weeks since the Head of State, His Highness Tuimalealiifano Sualauvi Va’aletoa II made a proclamation for a fresh election to allow “our people a second opportunity to elect for itself its 17th parliament”. 

His Highness in his announcement cited several factors that led to his decision to call for a fresh election. 

“There must be in place by June 2021 a parliament to pass the 2021/2022 budget in order for Government to carry out its usual fiscal responsibilities,” he said. 

“Separately, a delay in forming parliament may affect our regional and international responsibilities and effectiveness of our partnership arrangements."

With those considerations, Tuimalealiifano said he had sought advice as to his role in these uncertain times. 

“I have been assured that as the Head of State I am able to call fresh elections where, after a general election, there is no clear majority to form a government; and where it is in the public interest to do so.” 

Since the announcement, the O.E.C. has promptly acted to hold trainings and other preparations leading up to this week’s scheduled election. 

The State of Emergency Orders were also amended to accommodate special booths for the second polling day, effective 14 May 2021. 

On Monday, the Chief Justice with a panel of Justices of the Court overruled the Head of State's announcement for a fresh election, stating that he had no lawful basis to do so. 

The Court noted that nothing in their judgment should be construed as being critical of the Head of State. 

“Rather, this judgment is concerned with the correctness of the advice upon which the H.O.S. relied, which advice we say at the outset was inadequate,” said Chief Justice, His Honour Satiu Simativa Perese.  

In addition, he said, the Court makes plain that they do not consider the Head of State has acted in anything other than what he believes to be the best outcome for his beloved Samoa. 

“There is no basis for any suggestion that the Head of State acted with malevolence,” Chief Justice Perese added.

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