Supreme Court rules against suspending Samoa's Parliament

An urgent and unheard-of Sunday sitting of the Supreme Court in Samoa has ruled against the Head of State’s shock declaration that Parliament be suspended tomorrow – but the battle is far from over.

Parliament was to sit for the first time tomorrow since last month’s elections but in a surprise overnight development, the Head of State Afioga Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Saluavii II announced he was suspending Parliament and his reasons for doing so would be given at a later date.

Samoa’s constitution states that Parliament must meet 45 days from the general election and tomorrow is the 45th day since the April 9 ballot.

The FAST Party, which now has a majority of one to govern, took the Head of State’s announcement to the Supreme Court today which ruled in their favour amidst heavy police presence.

During the sitting, Attorney General Savelenoa Mareva Betham-Annandale, who was asked to sit down twice by the Chief Justice, walked out of the hearing.

1 NEWS understands the Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP), led by the long time Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, is now taking today’s Supreme Court decision to the Court of Appeal which is also on standby to meet today.

The political turmoil has been ongoing since the election with the HRPP determined to keep the power it held for nearly 40 years.

Both parties won an equal number of seats at the polls – until the independent candidate went with the FAST party.

Then the Electoral Commission announced the creation of a new seat to meet a Constitutional requirement that 10 per cent of seats should be held by women.

That seat went to an HRPP candidate once again taking the two parties to a deadlock. However, the Supreme Court threw out the Electoral Office’s decision to appoint an extra woman in parliament and the Court of Appeal agreed.

But it wasn’t over. The Head of State then announced fresh elections – which was also thrown out by the Supreme Court.

The shock developments in the last 24 hours a last ditch effort to stop Parliament from sitting tomorrow and a new Government forming.