Samoa Parliament Dissolved Ahead Of March 4th Elections

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Head of State lauds achievements of 15h Parliament

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, Samoa (Talamua, Feb. 1, 2016) – Samoa’s 15th Parliament has been dissolved by His Highness the Head of State, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi as the country prepares for the general elections 4 March 2016.

His Highness reflected on the challenges and achievements of the last 5 years since the 48 Members of Parliament were elected in 2011.

He highlighted the significance of the Ombudsman’s Office achievement when they published the very first human rights report, and their continuous effort of advocating for the rights of every human.

"It is important to probe and understanding human rights," said His Highness.

"The report reminds us of the concepts such as human rights and their relations to our everyday life and dreams," said His Highness.

He also touched on Samoa’s "constitution as the supreme law that prohibits the abuse of power, corruption, and how it counsels us against violence and demands.

"The Constitution demands accountability, wisdom and dreams of our forbearers, and we must tread careful, not with fear, but love," said His Highness.

He also acknowledged the Government and civil society that works hard on projects that promotes positive awareness, rights, universal principles and good governance.

"The 15th Parliament has served Samoa well with human rights raising critical public consciousness and parliamentary democracy," said His Highness.

He acknowledged Samoa’s approach to advance technology with the privatization of the Samotel Company, the move to invest in new technical submarine optical cables, the luxury of being able to be part of international protocol which was the first not only for Samoa, but the South Pacific.

In June 2012, Samoa celebrated 50 years of independent, paying tribute to all that sacrificed for the freedom we enjoy today.

In September, Samoa was hit by cyclone Evan, which was the worst cyclone to affect Samoa in the past 2 decades, upsetting livelihood and destroyed many homes.

More Women Voices in Parliament

Another achievement was reached in 2013 when Parliament amended the Constitution was to secure five seats for female representatives in Parliament, paving the way for more political participation from women.

"This is a major milestone for Samoa and the Pacific Parliament," said His Highness.

He acknowledged the stand against domestic violence, and urged leaders to find effective way to deal with the problem.

Of significance is the establishment of the Youth Court, Family Court, Alcohol and Drug Court, the Oloamanu Juvenile Rehabilitation center for young offenders, and he acknowledged the national human rights protocol.

"This is a clear evidence of key partners working effectively together," said His Highness.

He said proper data collection, reports and evaluation are the key challenges for the next parliament,

He made reference to the 2014 Small Islands Developing States conference hosted in Samoa, where the world came together to discuss 2 major threats – climate change and sustainable development.

His Highness said the success of the SIDS conference was a draw card in hosting last years’ 5thCommonwealth Youth Games.

Sports men and women and public servants achievements have become inspirational role models for the young.

He recognized the private citizens and active coalition groups, of those in Government, Opposition, Donor countries, diplomatic representatives, the private sector, businesses and churches, for their public stance, may be in a large or small scale against a personal or institutional groups that stood up against violence and corruption over the last 5 years.

"I commend the Government and the Opposition for the success of this 15th parliament, and your work and commitment is a living legacy to Samoa," said His Highness.

He emphasized the importance of these words by a scholar, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matters."

Parliament Speaker, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao responded to acknowledge all that attended the closing of the 15th Parliament of Samoa last Friday 29 January 2016.

He thanked the MP’s and apologized to the people of Samoa before acknowledging the support from his Deputy Speaker and the Office of the Legislature.

He also acknowledged the presence of members from his constituency who made time to attend the service.

"To the people of Samoa, thank you for your support and prayers that carried this Parliament through," said Speaker Laaulialemalietoa.

He also acknowledged the Olatoefuaina choir, made up of those serving time in prison who sung the service hymns.

"I respectful extend my sincere appreciation and honor your presence here today, to mark the success conclusion of another parliamentary term."

From the 48 MP’s elected to represent their electoral constituency 5 years ago, 11 supported the opposition party, Tautua Samoa and 37 supported the ruling Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP).

One MP has passed on, Tuilo’a Anitelea and one MP, Muagututagata Peter Ah Him resigned. Woman MP Faimalotoa Kika Stowers was elected and sworn in 19 June 2014 to replace Tuilo’a, while Susuga Seiuli Ueligitone Seiuli replaced Muagututagata.

The 16th Parliament will be formalized after the 04 March 2016 general elections.

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