Monday, September 13, 2021

Childish bullshit continues in Samoa

Samoa's parliament will sit tomorrow, for the first time since it was sworn in in May. But that first sitting only included FAST party MPs. As for the HRPP, they will not be allowed to attend tomorrow.

The context here is that the HRPP - or at least the tyrant Tuilaepa - is refusing to be sworn in by the legitimately elected Speaker, insisting instead on either a whole new state opening and re-swearing of the Speaker and all MPs, or that they be sworn in by the head of state in violation of standing orders. The Speaker is insisting that standing orders be obeyed - in particular the requirement that no MP can sit or vote in the house until they have been sworn in. The obvious solution is for HRPP members to turn up and be sworn in as required, but that would mean accepting the authority of the courts and the legitimacy of the government which threw him out of office, which appears to be too much for Tuilaepa's inflated ego to handle.

A complicating factor is that Samoa's standing orders require MPs to attend, and allow them to be unseated if they fail to attend for three successive days (something Tuilaepa was attempting to weaponise pre-election when opposition MPs were skipping two days in a row to campaign). Its unclear how this applies to unsworn MPs, but there's a possibility that if they refuse to be sworn in, the HRPP MPs could all be unseated and have to face by-elections. Which would of course go straight to court, and rightly so. In the past the Samoan courts have been reluctant to allow elected MPs to be unseated for trivial reasons, or in ways which appear to be an abuse of power, and I'd expect a high degree of scrutiny on any such decision. It is highly unlikely that any day where MPs hae not been provided the opportunity to be sworn in would count. And the contradiction between members being required to attend but unsworn members being forbidden to gives plenty of scope for the courts to overturn any purported ousting (though they might do so by ordering MPs to attend to be sworn in, which is probably not what Tuilaepa wants).

A second complicating factor is that Tuilaepa has called for a mob to attend tomorrow. Oh joy.

It would be nice if Samoa got a real opposition which accepted its loss and embraced its new role as a way of demonstrating its fitness for power in the future. Instead, their leader continues to engage in this childish bullshit. What's surprising is that his party continues to put up with him.