Samoa resumes leadership battle as UN offers to help
The United Nations has urged Samoa’s political leaders to resolve a political crisis through dialogue after disputed election results left the South Pacific country with two leaders claiming to lead the country.
FAST party leader Fiame Naomi Mataafa was set to become Samoa’s first female prime minister with a parliamentary majority from a court-approved seat before the incumbent prime minister refused to hand over power and accused the judiciary of partiality.
A spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday the agency would provide support if the parties requested it.
“[Guterres] urges the leadership of Samoa to find solutions to the current political situation through dialogue in the best interest of the people and institutions of Samoa, ”the statement said.
The results of the leadership fight could reframe the island nation’s relations with China after Fiame told Reuters last week it would halt development of a Beijing-backed port, calling it excessive for one. a small country already heavily indebted to China.
Outgoing leader Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who has governed for more than two decades, is one of Beijing’s closest allies in the South Pacific. He previously said South Pacific countries are only to blame if they fall into unsustainable debt.
While a series of court rulings back Fiame’s claim to be prime minister, Tuilaepa retains the support of the Samoan head of state, who suspended parliamentary hearings, thwarting plans to confirm the new government.
Members of the opposition party held a government-forming ceremony on Monday before a locked parliament in a procedure Tuilaepa called “treason”.
The political crisis in the small country of 200,000 people drew the entire South Pacific community with the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) being the first nation to recognize the Fiame-led government.
“The WSF being itself a democracy which defends and promotes democratic values, it is imperative that we show our friends – especially during their darkest hours – that we are by their side,” said the president of the WSF. David Panuelo in a press release.
Australia and New Zealand have not formally recognized the new government, although both have said democratic processes and the judiciary must be respected.
The Pacific Conference of Churches called on political leaders to act with justice and to consider the wishes of the people above all else.
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