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Samoa is in the midst of a constitutional crisis after its first female leader was locked out by Parliament

  • Samoa is currently undergoing a constitutional crisis after the long-term Prime Minister locked the new leader out of Parliament.
  • Prime Minister-elect Fiame Naomi Mata’afa is Samoa’s first female elected leader.
  • She and her party took their oaths in a tent outside Parliament, which detractors called illegal.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Samoa is entrenched in a constitutional crisis, after the nation’s longtime leader refused to step down and locked  Prime Minister-elect Fiame Naomi Mata’afa out of Parliament, blocking her ability to form a new government.

After being locked out, Mata’afa — the first female leader elected in Samoa — and her Fast Party supporters took oaths and announced positions in a ceremony held in a tent outside of Parliament, a ceremony long-term prime minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said was illegal.

Malielegaoi has been Samoa’s leader for 22 years, and lost last month’s election in an unexpected 26-25 loss for the prime minister, according to NPR. Mata’afa and her party won after appealing new election rules set by the Supreme Court.

After determining the final election count, Samoa’s Supreme Court ordered the Parliament to meet, based on a constitutional requirement asking lawmakers to meet within 45 days of an election. Monday’s lock-out marked the final day that Mata’afa could form a government. 

Outside parliament, Mata’afa remained defiant as her supporters cheered her on, saying, “There will be a time when we will meet again, inside that House. Let us leave it to the law.”

Malielegaoi held a news conference on Monday and said, “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.”

So far, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Aldern stopped short of calling for Malielegaoi to resign, but called on all parties to uphold the election result, and maintained that New Zealand would play a “non-interventionist” role in any political transition.

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