‘Very significant’ – Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reacts to first female PM in Samoa

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says having a woman Prime Minister in Samoa for the first time is a “historic decision”.

It follows rulings in Samoa’s Supreme Court today that pave the way for the Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi Party, better known as Fast, to gain an electoral majority.

Fast’s leader, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, is expected to seek the recall of Parliament so she can declare a Government – and become Samoa’s first woman Prime Minister.

It was a “significant” moment in history, Ardern said at her post-Cabinet press conference today.

“We’ve seen some decisions made today where that ultimately could be the final outcome. Having been a member of the Pacific Island Forum and those leaders’ dialogue, it feels very significant,” she said.

“We of course respect the outcomes of any democratically-led election. But it is certainly a meaningful thing when you see a historic decision made when an office is held by a woman.”

Asked about what is seen as caretaker Prime Minister Tuila’epa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s attempt to hold power, Ardern said she needed to respect each country’s processes which need to run their course.

Earlier today Samoa’s Supreme Court dismissed the Head of State’s decision to call a second election, clearing the path for the newcomer Fast party to form a government.

The court said incumbent Head of State Tuimaleali’ifano Va’aletoa Sualauvi II did not have the constitutional power to call a second election, which he had announced earlier this month as a way to break the deadlock from last month’s election.

This follows the court’s decision, also earlier today, to void the addition of an un-elected extra woman’s seat.

The electoral office last month added the extra seat purportedly to meet a provision in the constitution for 10 per cent of parliamentary seats to be reserved for women.

The extra seat had created the deadlock of 26 seats each between Fast and the caretaker government HRPP party.

Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese said in his judgment that “the Head of State does not have the power to call for a fresh election” as he had on May 4, RNZ reported.

“There is no lawful basis for the Head of State calling for a new election on 21 May 2021,” he said.

He added that the results from last months election “continue to be valid and lawful”.

Satiu stressed he was not criticising Tuimaleali’ifano’s actions because he was acting in what he believed was the best interests of the country.

“Rather this judgment is concerned with the correctness of the advice upon which the Head of State relied, which advice, we say from the outset, was inaccurate.”

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