Stalemate ends, appeals court declares FAST Party Samoa's new government
Mata’afa accepts victory 'with humility'
The Court of Appeal on Friday declared the Faatuatua ile Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) Party the winner in the April elections, breaking the political deadlock that kept the nation in limbo for nearly four months.
The ruling has paved the way for the party's leader, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, to assume the post as Samoa's first female prime minister, ending Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi's 22-year reign.
“So what do we do next, let us go and govern," the Samoa media quoted Mata’afa as telling the cheering members of the FAST party. “Let us accept with humility the decision we have received especially with the spirit of peacefulness.”
Fiame said the first order of business was to gather all public service leaders and advise them of the direction the transition will take.
The court held that the May 24 oath-taking -- which was challenged by the Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP)-- held by FAST on the lawn outside the parliament was legally binding and therefore, the party was “entitled to take power."
Mata’afa took her oath in an ad hoc ceremony after she had been locked out of the parliament due to HRRP's refusal to cede power despite losing a general election. HRRP had ruled Samoa for 39 years.
Tuilaepa served as interim caretaker-prime minister pending decisions on several protests filed in Samoa courts.
From this point, the appeals court said in Friday's ruling, Tuilaepa’s caretaker government is has been terminated and replaced by Mata’afa's new administration.
Mata’afa, previously the country’s deputy prime minister, defected from HHRP, and joined FAST last year.