Tensions flare as H.R.P.P. given evacuation order
A protest camp of Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) unsworn M.P.s has been given just minutes to leave has been ordered to leave in just minutes after tensions grew between them and Police guarding the Parliament.
After a morning in which tensions simmered between H.R.P.P. protestors, the flashpoint for the evacuation appeared to be when Reverend Bismark Tamati knelt on concrete outside of Parliament pleading for the H.R.P.P. to be allowed to meet with Speaker of the House.
The Deputy Commissioner of Police, Leiataualesa Samuel Afamasaga, responded by telling the H.R.P.P. they had two minutes to leave the premises or face being forcibly removed.
The incident came after tensions rose earlier on Wednesday as H.R.P.P. members, assembling outside Parliament in protest at their not being allowed to take the oath of office, engaged in a verbal dispute with Police.
Leading the protest outside Parliament is the party's leader and the former Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi, who is joined by 17 unsworn party Members whom the Speaker also denied to swear into Parliament.
He began a back-and-forth with the law enforcement officers ordered to guard the protest contingent and prevent their entry into the Parliament building by questioning their need to there.
“Your job is to act when there are threats, yet there are no threats. All we want is to speak to the Speaker of the House [Papalii Lio Masipa’u],” Tuilaepa said in a general message to the police around the Parliamentary precinct.
“This is our culture, we are here to negotiate.”
Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Police, Inspector Lio Faataumalama Auava, told the H.R.P.P. they were not allowed to have breakfast or "negotiate with" with the current Government."
Tuilaepa responded by requesting that the Police convey a message to the Speaker on his behalf.
“Inform the [Speaker] that we are here and we want to negotiate,” added Tuilaepa.
Tuilaepa said they would be sitting outside in protest until the sun sets while Parliament continued inside the Legislative Assembly.
"But all we want is to speak with the Speaker to ensure he gets our message," said the former Prime Minister.
Today's events came after the Speaker of the House, Papali'i Li'o Ta'eu Masipau informed the former ruling party of his decision to disallow their elected but unsworn Members from participating in this week's Parliamentary sitting. in a letter delivered on Monday on the eve of the new parliamentary term.