Australian Prime Minister congratulates Fiame

The Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has acknowledged Friday’s Court of Appeal decision and congratulated Samoa’s first female Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa.

In a statement released late Friday, following the Court’s decision to validate the 24 May 2021 swearing-in of the Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) Members, Mr Morrison said in a statement they acknowledged the Court’s decision and are looking forward to working with Samoa’s new government.

“Australia congratulates incoming Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa and looks forward to working closely with her government to strengthen our longstanding partnership,” said Mr Morrison.

“We commend the institutions of the Samoan Government and the Samoan people for their patience and for allowing the democratic, constitutional and legal processes to take their proper course.

“Following this final decision of the Court of Appeal 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. 

“We look forward to all Samoa’s elected members participating actively in the new Parliament.”

Mr Morrison’s statement follows that of his New Zealand colleague Jacinda Ardern, who was the first major head of government in the region to congratulate Fiame on Friday, upon her confirmation by the Court as the country’s seventh Prime Minister.

Last Friday’s Court ruling effectively brought to an end a months-long constitutional crisis after the Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) beat the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) by a 26–25 one-seat majority.

But the former Prime Minister and H.R.P.P. leader, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, refused to concede defeat and this set in motion attempts by the Office of the Electoral Commission and the Head of State to add a sixth women M.P. and call fresh polls in May, which were all later ruled unlawful and unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

However, appeals by the caretaker Government’s Attorney General, Savalenoa Mareva Betham-Annandale and the H.R.P.P. eventually saw the matter on the constitutionality of the F.A.S.T. party’s 24 May impromptu swearing-in outside a locked Parliament return to the Appellate Court, which then ruled last Friday that the party headed by Fiame had been in office and is officially the Government since its 24 May swearing-in.

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