News World Court backs in Samoa’s first woman PM
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Court backs in Samoa’s first woman PM

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Fiame Naomi Mata'afa has finally been sworn in as Samoa's first woman PM after a three-month post-election battle. Photo: AAP
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Samoa has its first female prime minister after a three-month electoral deadlock was broken by the courts.

The Pacific nation went to the polls on April 9, with the Faatuatua ile Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) party claiming victory over the Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP).

On Friday, the country’s Court of Appeal ruled that the swearing-in of the FAST party was legally valid. The party held its own swearing-in ceremony on the parliament’s lawns after members were locked out of the building.

The win means the first change of government in Samoa since 1982 and installs Fiame Naomi Mata’afa as premier.

The April election initially ended in a 25-25 tie in seats, with one independent candidate.

However, the electoral commissioner appointed another HRPP lawmaker to conform to gender quotas and the independent candidate chose to go with FAST, making it 26-26.

Court challenges and resignations since the election currently give the FAST party a 26-18 seat majority.

Long-time former prime minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has refused to cede power since the election, saying only Samoa’s head of state Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II had the authority to convene parliament.