While most Pacific neighbors stay neutral in Samoa crisis, Palau backs Mata'afa following FSM's lead
Koror- Palau became the second country to recognize Fiame Naomi Mata'afa as the legitimately elected prime minister of Samoa.
“The people and the government of the Republic of Palau wish to express our heartfelt congratulations on your election and the Supreme Court’s ruling, Which affirmed your selection as prime minister,” Palau President Suragel Whipps Jr. said in a letter to the Mata'afa.
Mata'Afa, the second female prime minister in the Pacific region, took her oath on May 24, amid relentless attempts by her predecessor, Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi, to block her assumption of office.
Federated States of Micronesia President David Panuelo was the first state leader to take side by officially recognizing Mata'Afa.
While the Samoa election was completed on April 9, the 51 members of the Samoan Parliament were constitutionally mandated to convene within 45 days and form a government.
While Mata'afa's Faʻatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) Party won a 26-25 majority in the parliament, the former ruling Human Rights Protection Party was suddenly given one more seat, creating a hung parliament of 26 to 26.
This was after the election commission declared an HRPP woman candidate winner allegedly to satisfy the law that requires 10 percent of parliament to be made up of women and thus adding another member to the legislative assembly.
While court battles have been ongoing and calls for a new snap election have been announced by its head of state, Mata'Afa was sworn in outside of the legislative building in a tent after she and her FAST Party were locked out of the Parliament.
HRPP Party has been in power for more than 40 years and whose leader, Malielegaoi, governed Samoa for more than 20 years.
FAST Party was only formed last year and whose leader was the deputy prime minister who used to be an HRPP member.
Today, HRPP Party is still announcing that it is still the current government since the swearing-in of the FAST Party members is unconstitutional
Palau comes only second to FSM in congratulating Fiame as prime minister.
Leaders of other Pacific island countries such as the Marshall Islands, Australia and New Zealand have issued statements urging all parties "to respect rule of law," but they have remained neutral and noncommital.