Samoa swore in its first female Prime Minister in a makeshift ceremony in a tent Monday after she was locked out of Parliament amid a power struggle with the country’s longstanding leader.
Fiame Naomi Mata’afa’s Faith in the One True God (FAST) Party said the dramatic turn of events amounted to a “bloodless coup” following weeks of uncertainty after the country’s deadlocked April 9 election.
Her narrow election victory was set to end almost 40 years of rule by the Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP), which has governed almost uninterrupted since 1982, and more than two decades with Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi as Prime Minister.
But in a late night decision over the weekend, current head of state Tuimaleali’ifano Va’aleto’a Sualauvi II canceled Monday’s parliamentary sitting without explanation, New Zealand national broadcaster Radio New Zealand reported.
Although Samoa’s Supreme Court ruled Sunday that the order canceling the parliamentary sitting was “unlawful,” FAST arrived at Parliament Monday to find the doors locked, according to RNZ.
“I think a coup would be accurate,” FAST spokesman Lance Apulu told RNZ when asked to describe Monday’s events. “Bloodless, but they are actually coups.”