2 Jul 2009

Samoa court reinstates nine MPs, cancels by-elections

3:07 pm on 2 July 2009

Samoa's Supreme Court has quashed the ruling by the parliament's speaker who had declared nine parliamentary seats for Tautua Samoa party vacant.

The speaker, Tolofuiaivalelei Falemoe Leiataua, argued that forming a party during the parliamentary term was a breach of standing orders.

In his decision, the Chief Justice, Patu Falefatu Sapolu, ordered for the nine MPs to be returned to parliament and the by-elections to be cancelled because the speaker's ruling was wrong under section 15 of the Electoral Act.

Our correspondent Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia says the ruling is historic.

"Now we can see the future of our parliament and also the independence of the bodies, of our country, through the judiciary, the independence of the judiciary and the independence of Parliament. The ruling by the Speaker was based on section 15, which he says was wrong, but he didn't say the grounds why he ruled it was wrong, but we are expecting his written decision in seven days."

The Tautua Samoa party is now considering whether to continue its legal claim for more than five million US dollars against the speaker.

The Prime Minister is holding a news conference later this afternoon.