New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern Accused of Plot to Elect Samoa’s First Female Prime Minister

Former Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi blamed New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for his party’s recent election loss, which had led to a 15-week constitutional crisis in the country.

Malielegaoi claimed in the interview to TV1 that Ardern’s government was “heavily involved” in a bid to install Mata’afa as Samoa’s new prime minister because she was “female”.

“I am starting to get suspicious maybe New Zealand is behind all of this,” the former prime minister said, according to a

translation

by the Samoa Observer.

“It looks like the New Zealand prime minister wanted Samoa to have a female prime minister, which has blinded her [Ardern] from seeing if it’s something that is in line with our constitution. But like that English proverb says: ‘the end justifies the means’,” Malielegaoi went on. The saying is widely attributed to 19th century Russian revolutionary Sergey Nechahyev.

Sailele Tuilaʻepa Malielegaoi

According to the former prime minister, the real “proof” of his suspicions was Ardern’s swift congratulatory message to Mata’afa following the court of appeal’s July ruling that her victory was legitimate.

“The fact that she quickly sent Fiame her well wishes makes me think that they had planned all of this,” Malielegaoi suggested.

Ardern spokesperson

has dismissed

the accusations as unfounded.

In April, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa’s FAST party won the national election with 26 parliamentary seats after entering a coalition with an independent MP.

Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa

The results have been disputed by Malielegaoi’s ruling HRPP party, that has been in power for 40 years and eventually came one seat short from holding a parliamentary majority.

The country plunged into political turmoil for several months following a number of legal challenges and disputes. Malielegaoi, who ruled the country for over 22 years and claimed that he was “appointed by god” to his position, decided not to accept his former deputy’s victory. He had refused to leave the government offices, effectively locking Mata’afa’s party out of the parliament building. The country’s first female prime minister

had to be sworn

in in May at an unprecedented ceremony inside a makeshift tent.

In July, Samoa’s Appeal Court

confirmed

the FAST party as the official winner of the election and recognised Fiame Naomi Mata’afa as the country new prime minister.

The court of appeal ruled that Malielegaoi’s “caretaker government” was occupying government offices unlawfully.

“For the avoidance of doubt, this means there has been a lawful government in Samoa since 24 May 2021, and that the lawful government is the FAST party, which holds the majority of the seats in parliament,” the court said.

Mata’afa previously served as Malielegaoi’s deputy leader from March 2016 until September 2020. After leaving the Cabinet over disagreements around a constitutional amendment and land bills, she joined the FAST party and became its leader in March 2021.