5 Mar 2011

Early results show ruling party keeps power in Samoa

10:42 pm on 5 March 2011

Samoa's Human Rights Protection Party looks to have been returned to office in the country's general election on Saturday.

By Saturday night, provisional vote counts had been completed in 25 of the 41 constituencies.

Ballot boxes from 291 polling booths have been transported to the office of the electoral commissioner near Apia, for the preliminary count.

The HRPP went into the election with 10 safe seats in the 49 seat Parliament.

Two MPs were elected unopposed, including caretaker Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, and the opposition did not stand in a further eight seats.

With about two thirds of the votes counted, the HRPP has won 18 seats.

However, three ministers - of Education, Communications and Justice - have been ousted from their seats.

The opposition Tautua Samoa Party, formed in 2008, has secured seven seats and is expected to win at least another seven.

Party leader Va'ai Papu Vailupe held his seat by only 25 votes, although Tautua did sweep the Salega constituency and its two seats.

The official vote count will take up to two weeks.

Some 100,000 people were registered to vote.