Samoa’s Supreme Court will today deliberate a constitutional case which could break an electoral stalemate in place since Samoa’s April
Samoa’s Supreme Court will today deliberate a constitutional case which could break an electoral stalemate in place since Samoa’s April 9th general election.
Both the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) and opposition Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) party hold 26 seats. FAST seeks to disqualify the HRPP’s 26th seat—granted by the Electoral Authority—to meet constitutional requirements that at least 10% of seats be filled by women.
How the Court will rule is uncertain, but a 2019 constitutional amendment favors FAST. If the Court decides for the HRPP, the deadlock will continue. However, subject to further court petitions, a FAST win gives it a one-seat majority, making its leader—Fiame Naomi Mata’afa—Samoa’s first female prime minister. A Mata’afa government would shift Samoa’s development policy away from debt-funded infrastructure projects—particularly, Chinese-backed projects. Expect cancellation of a proposed $100 million Chinese-funded wharf that FAST argues is a debt-trap and sovereignty risk. Furthermore, FAST’s majority hinges on an Independent representative seeking to curtail Chinese businesses in Samoa. These policies will likely strain, but not break, Sino-Samoan relations in the short- to medium-term because Samoa’s recognition of China over Taiwan is set to continue.
Wake up smarter with an assessment of the stories that will make headlines in the next 24 hours. Download The Daily Brief.