Samoa's 1st female PM takes office after constitution crisis

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Then Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa Fiame Naomi Mataafa speaks with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Australian High Commissioner to Samoa Sue Langford arsenic they get astatine Faleolo Airport successful Apia, Samoa connected Sept. 8, 2017. More than 3 months aft winning an predetermination which sparked a law crisis, Samoa's archetypal pistillate premier curate was yet capable to instrumentality bureau connected Tuesday, July 27, 2021. (Lukas Coch/AAP Image via AP)

WELLINGTON – More than 3 months aft winning an predetermination which sparked a law crisis, Samoa's archetypal pistillate premier curate was yet capable to instrumentality bureau connected Tuesday.

A smiling Fiame Naomi Mata’afa sat successful the seat her predecessor had been reluctant to relinquish aft 22 years successful power. She held her archetypal Cabinet meeting, with members of her FAST Party dressed successful the distinctive reddish apparel that enactment members and supporters often wear.

Fiame, 64, said they were acceptable to statesman their work.

That could see a reset of the land nation's narration with China. On the run trail, Fiame had pledged to halt a $100 cardinal larboard improvement backed by Beijing, calling the task excessive for a federation that’s already heavy successful indebtedness to China.

After a knife-edge predetermination effect successful April, Fiame's predecessor Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi refused to concede defeat, contempt respective tribunal rulings that went against him.


Tuilaepa had 2 almighty allies successful the nation's caput of authorities and the speaker, who were capable to stall the transportation of power.

A bizarre country played retired successful May erstwhile Fiame and her enactment were locked retired of the Parliament, with Tuilaepa claiming helium was inactive successful charge. Both sides accused each different of trying to signifier a coup.

Fiame and her enactment members took oaths and appointed ministers successful a ceremonial held nether a structure successful beforehand of the locked Parliament.

In a caller interrogation with The Associated Press, Fiame said that time was charged with emotion.

“It could person gone pear-shaped, but we were capable to support calm,” she said. “We could person stormed the gathering and knocked down the doors, similar successful Washington, D.C. But we conscionable sat and sang a fewer hymns, sang a prayer.”

Last week, the nation's apical tribunal ruled the antithetic swearing-in ceremonial that time had been constitutional, and Tuilaepa yet conceded.


Fiame had antecedently served arsenic Tuilaepa's deputy.

She said successful the interrogation that she resigned aft becoming acrophobic that Tuilaepa and chap lawmakers had gone “off the rails” by trying to politically intervene successful the nation's tribunal strategy and judiciary.

“It was a classical lawsuit of powerfulness and corruption,” Fiame said. “We were slipping distant from the regularisation of law, and I didn’t similar that. But astir of enactment were blessed to spell on with it.”

She said Tuilaepa ne'er thought helium could suffer the election, peculiarly fixed his immense parliamentary bulk starring up to it.

“He was successful daze and heavy denial,” she said.

Fiame’s predetermination triumph is seen arsenic a milestone not lone for Samoa, which is blimpish and Christian, but besides for the South Pacific, which has had fewer pistillate leaders.

Fiame said she didn't deliberation her sex was a large contented successful the election, and that her relation successful the accepted chiefly strategy was possibly much important to voters. But she hoped that she mightiness beryllium a affirmative relation exemplary for Pacific women successful different fields, showing what they could achieve.

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