Samoan law lecturer, claims suspension of two Senior MP’s is a ploy by current gov

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A Samoan law lecturer says the suspension of two of Samoa’s opposition party members is a ploy by the government to have them completely removed from Parliament.

Radio New Zealand reported that former Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and Human Rights Protection Party secretary Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi are challenging their 24-month suspension issued three months ago.

The suspension has come after a complaint lodged in court by Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa claiming contempt of court by the duo and other party members over comments they made against the judiciary following several court decisions which did not go the HRPP’s way.

The Supreme Court had previously found the two men guilty for contempt of Parliament but did not fine them.

University of Auckland’s Fuimaono Dylan Asafo said despite the legal challenges, the pair show no signs of resigning.

“I do believe if we’re thinking realistically, about all of these moves by the FAST-led government it does seem like that they are trying to purposely get Tuilaepa and Leala to resign,” he said.

“To remove and vacate their seats through other indirect ways because, of course, those two leaders don’t want to vacate or resign on their own accord.”

Fuimaono said it’s likely the court will rule in favour of Tuilaepa and Lealailepule.

“I actually do anticipate that their court challenge against the suspension will be successful,” he said.

“In my view, while Parliament technically does have the ability to suspend the MPs for whatever length they see fit, under Parliament standing orders – a two-year suspension is too excessive and actually engages constitutional rights of voters to elect who they want to see in Parliament.

“This is because two years is 40 percent of a parliamentary term. So you’re basically removing their ability to be heard, to have their interests represented in Parliament for such a significant amount of time.”

Tuilaepa’s role as the leader of the Opposition also comes into questioning, with some reports stating that HRPP’s deputy leader Lauofo Fonotoe Pierre Meredith has replaced Tuilaepa.

“Parliament made amendments to its standing orders to appoint a new leader of the Opposition,” Fuimaono said.

“Basically they introduced a rule if a leader is suspended for longer than six months then this means a new leader can automatically be appointed within the party.

“I think that this is concerning because it undermines the Opposition’s ability to govern over its own party matters where they should be able to determine and vote on who their new leader is – according to their own internal processes rather than having it dictated by its standing orders.”

SOURCE: RNZ