Head of State to convene Parliament
The Head of State, His Highness Tuimalealiifano Sualauvi Va’aletoa II, agreed to convene Parliament after meeting with the Fa’atuatua ile Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party late this afternoon.
On the current numbers, F.A.S.T. believes that they will command a majority on the floor of Parliament following the swearing in of the XVII Parliament.
The Chairman and founder of F.A.S.T., La’auli Leuatea Schmidt, said he had agreement on the Parliamentary swearing in while speaking to the Samoa Observer at the Head of State’s residence late on Wednesday afternoon. The party had held an unsuccessful meeting a day earlier with the Head of State.
But late on Wednesday, the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Tiatia Graeme Tualaulelei, issued a statement saying he had received no communication from the Head of State signalling his intent to convene Parliament.
"I hereby confirm for the information of the public, that the Legislative Office has not received an official notice from the Office of the Head of State as of to date, for Parliament to convene for its State Opening," Tiatia said.
"Our Office remains vigilant as we anticipate such notice from His Highness. I confirm, upon receiving the Head of State’s Proclamation, we shall act accordingly and publish it for public information no later than tomorrow."
La’auli said a second meeting with the Head of State this week was initiated by the party; F.A.S.T. has recommended that Parliament convene by this Friday.
The reason behind the request that Parliament is seated by Friday is that hearings on 28 electoral petitions begin on Monday next week and should not be disrupted, he said.
At the meeting was the Attorney General, Savalenoa Mareva Betham-Annandale, lawyers Taulapapa Brenda Heather-Latu, Matafeo George Latu and F.A.S.T. leader, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa.
“He has agreed to convene Parliament but he has not given the actual date when that will happen,” La’auli said.
“Our legal team was there to provide their advice and we feel obligated to assist in advising His Highness to understand the decision from the Court. The Attorney General was also present at the meeting.”
La’auli said the party has an obligation under the constitution and Parliament's Standing Orders to convey to the Head of State that F.A.S.T. has a majority on the floor of Parliament and the need to swear in the elected representatives.
La'auli's Wednesday afternoon statement contrasted with messages he delivered earlier in the day suggesting that a meeting held on Tuesday making the same request of the Head of State had been fruitless.
“Yesterday, we also met to submit a letter to the Head of State requesting for the convening of Parliament as soon as possible as the Court has made a ruling," La'auli said in comments posted to his social media page.
“However, we continue to see a lot of inappropriate advice being given to the Head of State.
“Do what is right and what has been ordered by the decisions of the court. Let us take the road that will bring peace to Samoa."
The F.A.S.T. delegation on Tuesday also advised the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Tiatia Graeme Tualaulelei, of their appointed positions.
Tiatia said the Head of State is aware of his obligation to appoint a time for Parliament to meet no later than 45 days after the election.
“I have been approached by [the] F.A.S.T. party this afternoon to submit their official letter pursuant to Standing Order requirement declaring their appointments of Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Leader/Prime Minister and Deputy P.M.,” he said.
“I have also reminded Hon Fiame and F.A.S.T. M.P.s of the court ruling yesterday [Monday] that the Warrant of Election issued by Head of State on the 12th April and 16th April 2021 continues to be valid and lawful.
“We’re expecting a notice from the Head of State for our Office to publish for public information.”
An appeal has been filed against the Supreme Court decision that ruled in favour of F.A.S.T. by reducing the number of seats controlled by the Human Rights Protection Party to 25, granting them a slight majority.