Sunday, May 13, 2007

Generational and constitutional change in Samoa

Malietoa Tanumafili II, Samoa's o le Ao o le Malo (head of state) has died, aged 95. His death marks the passing of the generation which led Samoa to independence. But it also signifies an important change in the country's constitutional system. When Samoa became independent in 1962, the position of o le Ao o le Malo was shared between two paramount chiefs. Now that they are both gone, the position shifts to being elected by the Fono for a five-year term. While it is highly likely that it will continue to be elected from among the four paramount chiefs, that's not a legal requirement - so in a sense samoa has just become a republic (if they weren't already).