H.R.P.P. heads to court to challenge Speaker

The Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) leader has confirmed they are heading to the court to challenge the Speaker’s decision to refuse swearing-in the party’s 18 Members-elect.

Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi made the announcement in response to queries from the media during a press conference at Petesa on Tuesday evening. 

The Speaker of the House, Papali'i Li'o Ta'eu Masipau informed the former ruling party of his decision to disallow their unsworn Members from the parliament session this week in a letter delivered on Monday on the eve of the new parliamentary term.

However, the former Prime Minister claims that the decision of the Speaker was a “weak excuse” and they are going to challenge it.

The decision by the party to return to the court comes on the back of a previous declaration that "they would not be heading to court" as Tuilaepa claimed that his party had lost faith in the courts and their decisions.

However, Tuilaepa revealed on Tuesday that they will be heading to courts after weeks and months of carrying out anti-judiciary protests. 

He is of the view that the executive had "overreacted" and accused Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata'afa and the Chairman of the Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party, La'auli Leuatea Schmidt of being the masterminds behind the events that unfolded on Tuesday at Tiafau.

Tuilaepa claimed that the incident on Tuesday, where they were prevented from entering the parliament by Police roadblocks, is akin to the roadblocks set up by villagers in Savai’i when they travelled to the big island for their anti-judiciary vehicle convoy protest in August.

Moreover, the H.R.P.P. leader believes that the F.A.S.T. Government is "jealous" of his party and that they had deliberately locked them out of parliament to prevent them from sitting in as they table the budget. 

“What more? What more acceptance do they want when I as Prime Minister and HRPP left office to honour the decision by the court of appeal, despite it being illogical and inconsistent. To keep the peace amongst our people, we left the government immediately.

“In my speech on the day that I resigned, I said ‘Fiame, that is the Government and we will serve you as the opposition’.”

Tuilaepa said this is a very serious matter as it pertains to the functioning of the separation of powers doctrine.

“The Parliament lacks independence and is working hand in hand with the Government to frustrate the efforts of the HRPP to be sworn in, especially after the Head of State has issued their writs of appointment," he said.

“It’s the darkest day in the history of democracy in this country. The events of 14 September according to Tuilaepa had tarnished the reputation of Samoa.

"This is something we only see happening in other countries of the world. This has tarnished the reputation and the good name of this country and other countries have seen what happened today."

According to the former Prime Minister, it was sad and disappointing to see what had happened on Tuesday and he was appalled that the new administration had come up with such "ugly behavior" to prevent them from entering parliament House, which he claimed is a House for the people of Samoa. 

"I keep asking myself whether this is the kind of freedom our ancestors had worked hard and hoped for," he said.

"From where did they get this kind of rule? This can create civil unrest within the country. But who is in charge of these kinds of orders? It's La'auli and Fiame, and now the Speaker."

Tuilaepa then reflected on events of last week when he met with the Speaker Papali'i, who gave them his word that he would swear-in the 18 unsworn members of the H.R.P.P. 

Nonetheless, Tuilaepa has claimed that the new administration had used the police force "to prevent the elected H.R.P.P. Members from attending the parliamentary session on Tuesday”. 

“They looked frighteningly menacing with their riot shields as though they expected violent action from us. 

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