By RNZ.co.nz and is republished with permission
Samoan Independent MP, Tuala Tevaga Iosefo Ponifasio, has confirmed he will join the Faatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) party following more than a week of post-election deliberations.
The Samoa Observer reports the decision comes hours after the paper revealed that as part of his negotiations with both parties, Tuala had asked HRPP leader Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi to stand down, as a condition of the party securing his vote.
Tuala’s announcement, and creation of an additional parliamentary seat last night leaves Parliament in a 26-26 deadlock.
Parties are only given 45 days after election day to form a government.
The villages of Mauga, Patamea, Samalaeulu and Saleaula gathered at Samalaeulu and hosted an ava ceremony for Tuala.
The decision was met with loud applause and cheers from the constituents gathered.
The constituency will formally present Tuala to FAST on Friday this week.
The creation of an additional parliamentary seat
Samoa’s Head of State has declared that an additional seat has been added after an article in the country’s constitution, regarding female representation, was activated.
Article 44(1A) requires that a minimum of 10 percent of Parliament’s seats be occupied by female members.
In a public notice last night the Electoral Commission Office announced that the Article had been activated because the election results had not met the 10 percent threshold. Rather, “Only 9.8 percent of the women membership was achieved after the general election”.
The extra seat was allocated to the female candidate who came closest to winning an electorate seat.
In the current circumstances the new seat has gone to the former chair for the Parliamentary public accounts committee, Aliimalemanu Alofa Tuu’au, who represents the Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP).
She is the sixth woman to be sworn in for the new Parliamentary term.
The 2021 general election result means six women will take seats in the new 52 seat Parliament.