H.R.P.P. to mark "darkest and saddest day"
The Human Rights Protection Party will hold a special service next month to mark what they describe as the "darkest and saddest day” in the history of Samoa.
The date 15 September will mark one year since the H.R.P.P. Leader and suspended Lepa M.P. Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi and his party Members were denied entry into Samoa’s Legislative Assembly while it was in session in Tiafau.
The plan to mark the one year anniversary of the confrontation at the door of the Parliament last September was revealed by Tuilaepa during a press conference this week.
The veteran politician claimed that the political events “have been written in the history books in Samoa", as it tarnished the reputation of the country while destroying its cultural, Christian and constitutional values.
He recalled that on that particular day 17 party Members including himself were banned from entering the Parliament, while elected representatives of the ruling Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party were inside discussing details of the 2021-2022 Supplementary Budget.
"This has never happened in Samoa before," Tuilaepa said. "We were chosen leaders for 18 constituencies to be their voices in Parliament and there was also a writ from the Head of State confirming that we are elected Members of Parliament.
"However, the Speaker of the House refused to have us sworn-in and ordered police to bar us from entering parliament precinct.
"Photos and videos of what went down that day went viral on social media and attracted the attention of the international media as well as other countries of the world.”
The 15 September 2021 political developments – which saw the H.R.P.P. Members including Tuilaepa refused entry into the House – occurred close to two months after Samoa’s Court of Appeal ruled that a swearing-in ceremony that F.A.S.T. party Members undertook on 24 May 2021 outside the Parliament was lawful and subsequently installed Fiame Naomi Mata’afa’s Government.
But the role of the former ruling party in refusing to concede defeat after last year’s April General Election was far from the mind of the former prime minister.
He told reporters that the scenes outside the Parliament on 15 september last year will not be forgotten.
"Those scenes will not be forgotten easily and those were not pretty photos as it portrayed us as bad people,” Tuilaepa said.
“We didn't mean any harm when we walked up to parliament; we just wanted to be sworn in so we can perform our duties as Members of Parliament.
"But you all saw what happened, the Parliament house was fully barricaded by our police force who were ordered to make sure that we do not enter Parliament, even to the extent where we were threatened that we could be arrested right there and then if we did not leave. "The church minister knelt before the police officers begging them to have mercy on us, we were not given chairs and water, the Council of Deputy and the Head of State also arrived to intervene and try to settle the issue.”
According to the former prime minister, the leaders of the different denominations in the country, which included the leaders of the National Council of Churches [NCC], also marched up to the Parliament.
“But Cabinet Ministers and members of parliament from the government did not care about any of that.
"They exited parliament grounds without even stopping to see why the N.C.C. marched up peacefully to parliament on that day.
“Things could have gone worse, the police stood ready to have us arrested that day, and that is why we will always remember and commemorate that day for as long as this party exists.”
Tuilaepa vowed that the H.R.P.P. will not practise such acts if they are returned to power in a future general election.
Following that incident the H.R.P.P. Leader and his Members filed legal proceedings with the Supreme Court ruling in their favour and ordered the Speaker of the House to swear-in the Members.
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