P.M. Ardern congratulates Fiame
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Friday night became the first major Pacific leader to congratulate Fiame Naomi Mataafa on winning the April election and becoming Samoa's first female Prime Minister.
The congratulations came after a ruling by the Court of Appeal that found Fiame's Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party had been the official Government of Samoa for almost two months after an ad-hoc swearing-in ceremony they conducted was found to have the force of law.
P.M. Ardern said dubbed Fiame's victory as "a historic moment for Samoa."
The Court of Appeal ruled that the F.A.S.T. party is the new Government of Samoa's bringing an end to three months of a national political stalemate.
“New Zealand has a special relationship with Samoa, anchored in the Treaty of Friendship. We look forward to working with Samoa’s new government in the spirit of partnership that characterises this bond,” Ms. Ardern said.
“After a long period of uncertainty following the post-election, New Zealand welcomes the stability that a functioning government will bring.
"This is a historic moment for Samoan democracy.
“New Zealand will continue to work side-by-side with Samoa to advance our shared interests, particularly through promoting prosperity, security, and sustainability in the Pacific as we recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic."
The Kiwi P.M. also offered her condolences ti the vanquished former Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, and acknowledged all that he had achieved during his 22 years in power.
“I acknowledge the former Prime Minister’s leadership. He delivered so much to Samoa and the region over his long career, and more than 20 years as the nation’s leader,” Ms. Ardern said.
This is not the first time P.M. Ardern has responded to "news of Samoa's first female Prime Minister" since the April's election.
In May this year, P.M. reacted to the "idea" of Samoa having a first female P.M. saying "it was very significant."
"We of course respect the outcomes of any democratically-led election. But it is certainly a meaningful thing when you see a historic decision made when an office is held by a woman," she said.
But with the exception of a handful of north Pacific island states such as the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau few territories and nations on the world stage have acknowledged Fiame as the nation's official Prime Minister.
While large Pacific countries such as Australia and New Zealand had previously urged for Samoa's Parliament to convene - a move that would have led to the formation of a new F.A.S.T. Government anyway - none have expressly congratulted Fiame, until now.
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison also offered less effusive congratulations for Fiame on Friday and urged an end to the political nation's instablity.
“It is important that all parties in Samoa respect the rule of law and the democratic process and comply with the directions of the court,” he told Reuters said in a short, emailed statement.
But receiving messages of support from foreign leaders, particularly other democratic nations is a key step towards a newly formed Government establishing its political authority.
On Friday, Samoa's highest court found that a Government swearing-in ceremony conducted by the party itself on the lawns of Parliament on 24 May was in fact legally binding. That conclusion had the effect of immediately installing F.A.S.T as the nation's new Government and declaring that it had been so for nearly two months, with the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) of unlawfully occupying the office of the naton's "caretaker Government".
The decision apparently brings to an end the 22-year reign of Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi as the nation's Prime Minister.