Govt. mum on Deputy P.M. vacancy
The Government has remained tightlipped on concerns about the absence of a Deputy Prime Minister despite the Constitution demanding the position be filled at all times.
The position has been vacant since former deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, resigned from her ministerial duties earlier this month.
Since then, Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi said he would not appoint a deputy - months away from the General Election.
A former District Court Judge, Lefau Harry Schuster, says the appointment is mandatory under the Constitution and should be filled.
Attempts to get a comment from Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, through Press Secretary, Nanai Lave Tuiletufuga, were unsuccessful.
Nanai had acknowledged receiving queries from the Samoa Observer saying he will forward it to the Prime Minister.
No response was received before press time.
The Attorney General, Savalenoa Mareva Annandale, was asked for a comment through an email on Thursday. She has not responded.
Meanwhile, Lefau said the Prime Minister's decision not to appoint a Deputy P.M. shows the government failure “to follow the letter of the law and the Constitution”.
“In my view, the importance of the position is that it’s enshrined in the Constitution to guarantee that there is no vacancy and gap in the top leadership that is the deputy P.M.,” he said.
“There is a vacuum to appoint the Deputy P.M. so that if anything happens to the Prime Minister they take over. They proposed the law that is now in the Constitution and everyone should follow the rule of law, in this case, is the appointment of the deputy [P.M.] the Constitution.”
In the Constitution, Article 32 (b.a) 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.
Lefau explained that had the position been made under a statutory law then the appointment would be made on the discretion of the Prime Minister.
“But what they did they made a clause for the Deputy Prime Minister’s appointment in the Constitution and have clearly gone and cut that path to make it more clear,” he said.
“Now this situation has arise where they should make the appointment but they are not.
“What makes it worse is they were the ones that made the amendment into law and everyone should follow it.”
The M.P. for Salega East, Olo Fiti Vaai raised the alarm on the decision from the Prime Minister not to fill the position claiming it violated the Constitution.
Olo said while the Prime Minister is the leader of the Government in power, it does not mean what he wants will overrule the Constitution.
Furthermore, he claims that it appears that the Prime Minister feels he is superior to the rule of law.
“The whole country is watching and this can only be described as being a communist country being run without any law,” said the M.P.
“This is our Constitution and everyone including the Executive and himself has to obey it.
“It seems to me that there is no one in there that is qualified for the position other than its predecessor Fiame…”