Samoa’s Head of State calls new elections May 21st

The following is the entire text of the address by Samoa’s Head of State Tuimaleaaliifano
Vaaletoa Sualauvi II, concerning the April 9 general elections.

I speak to you now my beloved Samoa not only as your Head of State, but as a father, a brother, and a son to you all. On Friday, 09 April 2021, our country went to the polls to select for ourselves the 17th Parliament for Samoa. To date, the 17th Parliament has yet to convene.

After polling day, I have been observing with particular care, interest and concern the events that followed.

Since polling day, there has been a deadlock in the 52 seats of Parliament between the HRPP and the FAST Party, with the additional seat for women now before the Court for their determination.

On Friday, 30 April 2021, some 28 petitions have been filed by candidates seeking to question the 2021 General Elections. I have been advised that there are no overlaps in the petitions and that the petitions seek to question elections of Members from 28 Constituencies. The first Mentions for the petitions took place before the Court today, Tuesday, 04 May 2021.

Essentially, the Courts will determine the election of 29 seats of Parliament, including the additional seat for women representing more than 50% of the Membership of Parliament.

The Political discourse has done little to assist matters.

Political leaders and supporters on both sides have laid serious accusations against the impartiality of the Court, lessening the appearance of that arm to discharge its constitutional and common law functions to interpret and apply our laws. Whatever the outcome of the petitions, the decisions of the Courts will be questioned and viewed through that prism.

As per the normal course of petitions, it is expected that there will be counter petitions, bringing the number of petitions to 56 petitions. The resolution of those petitions may take the remainder of 2021 to resolve, especially if the Court orders a by-election for each constituency. In which case, those constituencies would have to go through nomination challenges prior to their by-election and then election petitions afterwards.

Aside from the time consuming aspects of the 56 petitions, the number of petitions represents a concerning statistics about the conduct and practice of candidates for the 2021 General Elections.

The 2021 General Elections has provided an insight into the robustness of our political system which is now in limbo. Of great interest is the influence from the Samoa diaspora through social media and innovative incentives. Only history will determine the extent of that influence on the 2021 General Elections, whether negatively or positively.

As politicians go about their political affairs and the Courts with their deliberations, the operation of the Government remain uncertain. By June 2021, the financial year 2020/2021 will come to an end, and with it the ability of Government to pay salaries of its employees, meet its expenses and pay for services- including essential services such as health and education. If the 2021/2022 budget is not tabled and passed, it will have overreaching effects on the everyday functions of Government, including its ability to respond to the Covid 19 Pandemic and sustain its current responses.

There must be in place by June 2021 a Parliament to pass the 2021/2022 Budget in order for Government to carry out its usual fiscal responsibilities.

Separately, a delay in forming Parliament may affect our regional and international responsibilities and effectiveness of our partnership arrangements.

The uncertainty regarding the results of the elections has affected every fabric of our society.

With these considerations in mind, I have sought advice as to my role in these uncertain times. I have been assured that as the Head of State I am able to call fresh elections where, after a general election, there is no clear majority to form a government; and where it is in the public interest to do so.

I have been further assured that if fresh elections are to be called, elections may take place as soon as possible and be completed by Friday, 04 June 2021 from when I, as Head of State, calls for it.
I have also consulted the leaders of the HRPP and FAST regarding my decision and they are aware of it.

Having taken into account the consideration that I have referred to above, I am of the firm belief that given the fact that there is no majority to form a Parliament, it is in the best interest of Samoa that fresh elections be called to allow our people a second opportunity to elect for itself its 17th Parliament.

Today, by Writ, I directed the Office of the Electoral Commission to issue a Public Notice of the Writ for Election of Members of Parliament for all Constituencies and have appointed Friday 21st May 2021 as the day of Election.

In doing so, I hereby revoke the Warrants of Appointments issued on the 12th March, 16th April and 20th April 2021 in relation to the General Election held on the 9th of April 2021.

I take this time to wish Samoa a peaceful election and pray for the Lord’s counsel and guidance as we seek to elect our Members of Parliament.

God Bless, Soifua