The government of Samoa has locked out Prime Minister-Elect Fiame Naomi Mata’afa and her supporters out of the parliament building on May 23, refusing a transition of power.
Police and locked doors confronted Mata’afa, who won an election last month, on the day the parliament was due to convene to swear in a new government for the first time in four decades, plunging the Pacific country into a political crisis.
“We are here to uphold the orders of the supreme court and convene parliament,” Mata’afa said outside the building in the capital of Apia, as reported by Samoan journalist Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson.
The chief justice and judiciary and police commissioner were also locked out of the building.
Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who served as the prime minister for 22 years before his unexpected defeat in the elections, claimed that he was still in charge.
“There is only one government in Samoa, even if we are just the custodian government. We remain in this role and operate business as usual,” Malielegaoi said at a press conference, as translated by Jackson on Twitter.
Malielegao also accused Mata’afa and her supporters of “trying to use force to open the House of Parliament.”
“We will continue to sit here in the hallowed grounds of parliament that belongs to our people. If you will not let us into the house, we will stay here. We have all waited, they have all waited, the Paramount Chiefs, the Chiefs and all of us,” Mata’afa said outside the locked doors.
Last week, Head of State Tuimalealiifano Va’aletoa Sualauvi II wrote in a proclamation last week that he was suspending the parliament “for reasons that I will make known in due course.”
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