6 May 2008

13 Samoan MPs faced with possible by-election over party formation

1:51 pm on 6 May 2008

Samoa's Parliament speaker, Tolofuaivalelei Falemoe Lei'ataua, will decide in 24 hours whether to force 13 independent MPs into by-elections after they announced they would form a new political party.

This comes after the Prime Minister, Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, told Parliament that forming a party would violate standing orders.

The prime minister says MPs who stood as independents must stay independent, and cannot join a party until the end of a parliamentary term.

The standing orders also preclude the newly formed political party being registered or recognised in the house, despite it meeting the requirement of having a minimum of eight MPs.

The former SDUP party leader, Le Mamea Ropati, is the only remaining independent MP not joining the new party.