No path into parliament yet for Samoa's HRPP

The parliamentary status of Samoa's former ruling party remains in doubt after its members were blocked from the first session yesterday.

There were heated exchanges outside parliament as police turned back former prime minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and his Human Rights Protection Party colleagues.

The Speaker, Papali'i Li'o Masipa'u, banned HRPP members because he said they refuse to recognise him as Speaker.

Our correspondent Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia said the Speaker has not yet committed to a swearing-in schedule for HRPP.

He thought the Speaker might act at the end of the budget session.

Tuilaepa, who has been highly critical of the courts, is facing contempt charges.

Autagavaia said the courts have closed as a precaution because of recent threats on social media.

"Tuilaepa continues to attack the court of appeal decision and that was the decision which recognised lawfully the swearing-in under the tent of the FAST party. And he said his elected members will not be sworn in by the Speaker but the Head of State. but that's not the protocol under the constitution," he said.

The Speaker explains confirms a quorum exists

Papali'i Li'o Tae'u Masipa'u has confirmed that parliament had the quorum to meet in its session that started yesterday.

After announcing the seven seats voided by the courts for electoral malpractices, Papalii said that left parliament with 44 seats and the quorum is 23.

He also confirmed with the FAST Party holding 25 seats, parliament has the quorum to meet and conduct its business especially the budget which should be passed before the end of the month.

The Government has been operating on a three months emergency budget put in place by the caretaker government and that ends at the end of September.

Samoa's prime minister said the HRPP only has itself to blame.

Fiame Naomi Mata'afa's statement came at the opening of the first sitting of the country's 17th parliament, five months after the election in April.

In her opening statement the prime minister seemed to distance herself from the speaker's decision except to say she was appalled at the tone of correspondence from the HRPP leader to the speaker.