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Politics of Samoa

The 1960 constitution of Samoa (which formally came into force with independence) is based on the British pattern of parliamentary democracy[?], modified to take account of Samoan customs. Samoa's two high chiefs at the time of independence were given lifetime appointments to jointly hold the office of head of state. Malietoa Tanumafili II[?] has held this post alone since the death of his colleague in 1963. His eventual successor will be selected by the legislature for a 5-year term.

The unicameral legislature[?] (Fono) contains 49 members serving 5-year terms. Forty-seven are elected from territorial districts by ethnic Samoans districts; the other two are chosen by non-Samoans on separate electoral rolls. Universal suffrage was extended in 1990, but only chiefs (matai) may stand for election to the Samoan seats. There are more than 25,000 matais in the country, about 5% of whom are women. The prime minister is chosen by a majority in the Fono and is appointed by the chief of state to form a government. The prime minister's choices for the 12 cabinet positions are appointed by the chief of state, subject to the continuing confidence of the Fono.

The judicial system is based on English common law and local customs. The Supreme Court is the court of highest jurisdiction. Its chief justice is appointed by the chief of state upon the recommendation of the prime minister.

Since 1982 the majority party in the Fono has been the Human Rights Protection Party[?] (HRPP). HRPP leader Tofilau Eti Alesana[?] served as prime minister for nearly all of the period between 1982 and 1998, when he resigned due to health reasons. Tofilau Eti was replaced by his deputy, Tuila'epa Sailele Malielegaoi[?].

Parliamentary elections were held in March 2001. The Human Rights Protection Party, led by Tuila'epa Sailele Malielegaoi, won 30 of the 49 seats in the current Fono. The Samoa National Development Party, led by Le Mamea Ropati[?], is the main opposition. Other political parties are the Samoan Progressive Conservative Party[?], the Samoa All Peoples Party[?], and the Samoa Liberal Party[?].

Country name:
conventional long form: Independent State of Samoa
conventional short form: Samoa
former: Western Samoa

Data code: WS

Government type: constitutional monarchy under native chief

Capital: Apia

Administrative divisions: 11 districts; A'ana, Aiga-i-le-Tai, Atua, Fa'asaleleaga, Gaga'emauga, Gagaifomauga, Palauli, Satupa'itea, Tuamasaga, Va'a-o-Fonoti, Vaisigano

Independence: 1 January 1962 (from New Zealand-administered UN trusteeship)

National holiday: National Day, 1 June (1962)

Constitution: 1 January 1962

Legal system: based on English common law and local customs; judicial review of legislative acts with respect to fundamental rights of the citizen; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 21 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: Chief Susuga MALIETOA Tanumafili II (cochief of state from 1 January 1962 until becoming sole chief of state 5 April 1963)
head of government: Prime Minister TUILA'EPA Sailele Malielegaoi (since 24 November 1998); note - TUILA'EPA served as deputy prime minister since 1992; he assumed the prime ministership in November 1998 when former Prime Minister TOFILAU Eti Alesana resigned in poor health; the post of deputy prime minister is currently vacant
cabinet: Cabinet consists of 12 members, appointed by the chief of state with the prime minister's advice
elections: upon the death of Chief Susuga MALIETOA Tanumafili II, a new chief of state will be elected by the Legislative Assembly to serve a five-year term; prime minister appointed by the chief of state with the approval of the Legislative Assembly

Legislative branch: unicameral Legislative Assembly or Fono (49 seats - 47 elected by Samoans, 2 elected by non-Samoans; only chiefs (matai) may stand for election to the Fono; members serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 26 April 1996 (next to be held by NA April 2001)
election results: percent of vote by party - HRPP 45.17%, SNDP 27.1%, independents 23.7%; seats by party - HRPP 25, SNDP 13, independents 11

Judicial branch: Supreme Court; Court of Appeal

Political parties and leaders: Human Rights Protection Party or HRPP [TUILA'EPA Sailele Malielegaoi, chairman]; Samoa All People's Party or SAPP [Matatumua MAIMOAGA]; Samoan National Development Party or SNDP [TAPUA Tamasese Efi, chairman] (opposition); Samoan Progressive Conservative Party [LEOTA Ituau Ale]

International organization participation: ACP, AsDB, C, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IMF, IMO, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), IOC, ITU, OPCW, Sparteca, SPC, SPF, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO

Flag description: red with a blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side quadrant bearing five white five-pointed stars representing the Southern Cross constellation

See also : Samoa



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