By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
FSM recognizes Mata’afa as Samoa's legitimately elected prime minister
Updated: May 27, 2021
As the rest of the world sits on the fence watching the ongoing political drama in Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) announced its formal recognition of Fiame Naomi Mata’afa as the newly elected prime minister of the independent nation.
“As the FSM is itself a democracy,” FSM David W. Panuelo said in a statement this week, “that both upholds and promotes democratic values, it is imperative that we show our friends—especially during their darkest hours—that we stand with them. Samoa is a cherished friend and Pacific neighbor."
Panuelo is the first to pick a side while Samoa remains locked in a political crisis as the former ruling party refuses to cede the election.
Mata’afa, leader of the newly formed Faatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) party and Samoa’s first woman prime minister, took her oath of office Monday.
Her election epitomizes the long-sought political overhaul in Samoa, which was governed by the Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) for almost four decades.
Samoa, however, remains locked in a political crisis due to the HRPP's repeated attempts to block Mata’afa's assumption of office.
With the doors locked to Samoa’s Parliament on Monday, Mata’afa was sworn in as prime minister in an ad hoc ceremony in a marquee.
The Samoa Supreme Court dismissed 13 motions from HRRP and one from the Tautua Samoa party against the FAST party's successful candidates.
“It is precisely in moments like these that we as Micronesians, must be brave and proactive," Panuelo said.
"The FSM stands by the rule of law. The people of Samoa are our friends; they need to hear that we support them in this crisis. They must know that they are not facing these challenges alone, but that their friends in the North Pacific stand with them," he added.
Henry Puna, secretary-general of the Pacific Islands Forum, urged all parties to pursue peaceful means to resolve their difficulties.
"The Forum also stands ready to offer support and help if requested," Puna said. “I ask each of us across our Member nations to keep the people of Samoa in our thoughts and prayers at this time, knowing that Samoa’s sovereign process and the world-renowned Fa’a Samoa will prevail at this critical moment in their history."
Mata' afa has succeeded Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who had been ruling Samoa since 1982.
Mataʻafa was educated at Samuel Marsden Collegiate School and Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand.
She was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of Samoa in the 1985 election, representing the constituency of Lotofaga previously held by her mother. She has been re-elected in every election since and is one of the longest-serving members of Parliament.