New Zealand rejects call to review election

New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (M.F.A.T.) says they have no plans to respond to a petition calling on the Government to review Samoa's recent elections as they have no authority to do so. 

A spokesperson for M.F.A.T. told the Samoa Observer the New Zealand government recognises the “unprecedented” situation currently faced by Samoa.

But they will not review Samoa’s electoral processes because they have no legal standing to do so.

M.F.A.T. clarified that they do participate in formal election observer missions only when invited.

“New Zealand has no legal standing to review other sovereign countries’ electoral processes,” the spokesperson said.

“We participate in formal election observer missions if invited and where possible.”

M.F.A.T. was responding to questions from the Samoa Observer about a petition that was initiated by New Zealand-based attorney Josie Fuimaono-Sapolu.

The Clerk for Samoa’s Legislative Assembly, Tiatia Graeme Tualaulelei said they are aware of the petition and will respond to it in a statement.

Any review of the election's conduct would be a Samoan matter and one to "[be] something for the Executive Branch," Tiatia noted.

Responding to questions from the Observer, Morwenna Grills, Communications and Engagement Manager for of the New Zealand Law Society (N.Z.L.S.) explained that petitions can be created by anyone and must be signed by at least one person.

Like all petitions, it is addressed to New Zealand’s House of Representatives and asks that the House do something about a policy or law or put right a local or private concern, Ms. Grills explained.

Ms. Fuimaono-Sapolu filed a petition with the New Zealand Parliament asking that they review the election in Samoa to ensure it has gone through a free, fair and democratic process.

As of 5 May, six days after the petition was published on the New Parliament website, it had more than 2,400 signatures.

Ms. Fuimaono-Sapolu said that M.F.A.T states "we value Samoa's reputation for good governance and as a leader in the region." 

“Conduct by the Samoa Electoral Commission Office in the Election 2021, raises doubt about whether there has been good governance in its administration of the Election, including (but not limited to) the appointment of a M.P. who did not win in her constituency,” the petition states.

“As an aid-donor and close friend of Samoa, N.Z. must ensure its aid & support is not being misused in supporting unfair election-processes.”

The M.F.A.T. of New Zealand spokesperson told the Observer it’s important to give Samoa time to work through its democratic and legal processes and they will continue to watch Samoa’s election process closely.

“We recognise this is an unprecedented situation for Samoa. New Zealand continues to watch Samoa’s election process closely,” the spokesperson said.

“It is important we give Samoa time to work through its own democratic and legal processes as a sovereign country.”

On Tuesday evening, Head of State of Samoa, His Highness Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II invalidated the results of the April General Election.

He set fresh elections for 21 May, 2021.

“As a friend and partner, New Zealand has a keen interest in the formation of a stable and effective democratically-elected government in Samoa,” M.F.A.T. told the Observer.

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