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By Michael Field of The Pacific Newsroom

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has appealed for people in Samoa to uphold its democracy and institutions.

Speaking on RNZ’s Morning Report today, she said New Zealand was closely watching events.

“We have faith in Samoa’s democracy and institutions,” she said.

The scene outside the Fale Fono in Mulinu’ū, Apia, today. Video: Samoa Global News

Ardern hailed the independence of the judiciary.

“We call on others to uphold those institutions and democracy.”

Former Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) Speaker LeaupepeToleafoa Faafisi has seized the keys to the Fale Fono (Legislative Assembly) and locked all the doors.

The FAST party members and supporters, wearing red, were gathered in a tent outside.

Hung Parliament
This follows elections which produced a hung Parliament which, in the days since, has seen FAST, led by Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, take a one seat lead.

HRPP’s leader and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele tried various manoeuvres to overturn that lead, but found himself blocked by the Supreme Court – and the Constitution.

O le Ao o le Mālō (or Head of State) Tuimalelifano – who won his appointment via a HRPP government – tried to overrule the Supreme Court, producing a weekend battle which he appears to have lost.

He has fled the capital for the perceived safety of his village Falelatai, 30 km away. It is not known if he will attend the Fale Fono session today which should see the swearing in of MPs by the Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese.

Also expected to boycott the session is the sole member of the Council of Deputies, Le Mamea Ropati.

HRPP have not said what they will do, but a boycott of the assembly by Tuilaepa and HRPP politicians is likely.

Expected to attend will be Tupua Tamasese Efi. He cannot take any role. As Prime Minister Tupuola Efi, he was ejected from office by the HRPP.

He later became Head of State.

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