He is one of the most experienced politicians in the Pacific Islands, but FAST leader Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi, who won 26 of the 26 seats in last month’s election in Samoa, claims Victory is experiencing its biggest 36-year battle in politics.
The island nation of Polynesia, with a population of about 199,000, has been in an unprecedented political stalemate since the April 9 vote.
Many analysts see the rise of FAST at the time of the resignation of the former Deputy Prime Minister as the first sign of a serious electoral challenge of the current Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP), led by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who has been in office for 22 years.
But few people predicted the rolling show and conspiracy that has gripped the nation and the region ever since.
Despite the uncertainty, the 64-year-old is remarkably unique.
“If the interim government keeps throwing things at us, we just have to go through it, and of course the courts will continue to do it and go through the legal process. So, I think patience is the key.” The resignation said in an interview with Al Jazeera.
Last week, the election stalemate seemed to have been lifted after the defeat of both major parties with the victory of each of the 26 seats.
Mutaifa, who resigned in September 2020 before joining the FAST party, was scheduled to be sworn in as the new prime minister on May 24 after rejecting the HRPP Supreme Court’s claim that she had a seat outside parliament to comply with women’s representation rules. As a result, the FAST party is running for a seat.
But, in a desperate attempt to prevent a transfer of power, Malile Guy locked the doors of Samoa’s parliament.
Fiame Naomi Mata’afa swore without concern that she was at an informal ceremony in a tent near her office, which the HRPP described as a “betrayal”.
Please refute such claims.
“In general, we have followed the election law … and I tell you, our courts are really standing, which is very important at this time because we do not have a sitting parliament and the interim government is a temporary arrangement,” he said. “So, this is a functional body, and thank God it works,” he said.
Given his lifelong experience of public life, his long-term and unique view of the current crisis may not come as a surprise.
Fiama Naomi’s resignation is the daughter of Samoa’s first post-independence prime minister, Fiama’s resignation’s Favomina Molino II, who first entered politics in 1985 as a member of Lotofaga constituency on the main island of Upolu.
Until 2016, when she became Deputy Prime Minister in the HRPP government, she held various ministerial posts for education, women, communities and social development, justice, environment and natural resources.
Under his leadership, the FAST party conducted elections during the election on issues such as the fight against corruption, strengthening the rule of law, tackling unemployment, and examining not only the country’s foreign debt and the history of campaign development projects.
Although he believes that Samoans need to overcome the impasse themselves – and they are capable of doing so – he rejects offers of support from international agencies and bilateral partners.
The United Nations has already offered to help find a solution, and the Micronesian federal states have publicly supported the new government.
“I have been told that Palau will follow suit,” he said. “Also, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth has communicated, he has spoken to the Prime Minister and he has also contacted me,” he said.
“The Pacific Archipelago has proposed that [mediator] If necessary, through the new Secretary-General, Henry Pune, and the Biktava Statement, it will provide a framework for addressing the region’s security challenges. But I think a lot of people in Samoa hope that this issue will be resolved in the country without the use of international intervention. “
FAST’s next hurdle is May 31, when the Court of Appeals against Malile Gawi appeals the Supreme Court’s decision to cancel the HRPP’s extra seat in parliament.
“So, if he does not succeed, will he step aside, because this is the last handle he is really hanging on to,” Matafa asked.
While the abduction of parliament by the current prime minister has been described as a “bloodless coup”, there is no sign of the island falling into turmoil.
“This is certainly a tense situation for Samoa, but I do not expect it to end in violence,” Baker told Al Jazeera. There are all signs that can solve this problem, not necessarily quickly or easily, but certainly peacefully.
“Samoa is not one of those places,” Matfa said. People are very measured. They are well aware of the Samoan way of life that it is very important to stay calm and get through the work process. “
Invest in the spotlight
Even as the power struggle continues, the prime minister-elect is clear about his priorities after taking office.
“We really want to put the government infrastructure in the right place in terms of development goals,” he said. “Our indicators for education and health are very weak. I think with our current government, the priority has been to stimulate the economy around infrastructure projects. We want to involve more people in the economy, so we want capital. “Let’s do more about how small and medium-sized businesses grow.”
He is also keen to take a tougher line on the country’s development and infrastructure, including a controversial port project in Wayosu Bay that was publicly proposed by the Samoan government under Malela Guy in 2012.
The $ 100 million project, funded by China, has been controversial with Samoa, who believe it has increased the debt of the Pacific island government to the East Asian country. It is estimated that 40% of Samoa’s foreign debt owes China.
“I have been asked about Chinese projects, including piers, for many years,” he said. “We do not prioritize it. Samoa is a small country and I think our current inputs are more than enough to meet our needs. They have approached the Chinese and they have said they are looking at it. [the wharf project], But nothing is signed. “
According to the World Bank, while Samoa’s per capita GDP is approximately $ 4,324, it is estimated that 20.3% of the population lives below the national poverty line and unemployment is around 14.5%. Youth unemployment is close to 32%.
“We have had many projects with the Chinese and I think this is an opportunity for us to explore,” he said.
“What has been the pattern? Is this the most effective way we can work with a bilateral partner? But not only China, but also our other development partners,” he said. “I think China, as a development partner and a donor, should also come to the party and understand some of the rules about how you work with us. It is always good to do it in an open and consultative manner.”
Strengthening the rule of law is another fundamental goal.
“We had three very controversial bills that were passed through parliament very quickly [last year] And that was one of the main reasons I was away. “
The new land and title tribunal, constitutional amendments and judicial bills were widely opposed because they seemed to give too much power to the executive, as well as the Supreme Court’s ability to challenge abuses. Use power by creating new land courts and titles with – Achieve power
The law led to the “complete destruction of the judicial system” and the creation of an independent and autonomous Land and Titles court with a very vague legal framework, “a very dangerous record,” Matafa said.
“I’m not saying we should not have a strong Land and Titles court, but in terms of national jurisdiction, it ‘s very important to care about who has the highest position,” he said. “It has always been the Supreme Court, but now it is in question.”
Beyond those long-term goals, the retiree also saw an urgency to respond more harmoniously to the consequences of COVID-19.
While Samoa has only recorded 235 cases of the Corona virus since the outbreak, it has in some cases imposed internal lock-in measures, as well as restrictions on international voyages and cruise ships.
“I understand that, under the circumstances of the election, no one wants to talk about the immediate effects of the COVID-19 economy, but I think this is one of the things we have to deal with very quickly,” he said. .
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