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Legal expert says Samoa parliamentary suspensions unconstitutional

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Auckland, NEW ZEALAND — A Samoan law lecturer believes the suspension of Samoan opposition leader and former prime minister is unconstitutional.

Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has been suspended for two years along with his party secretary, as a result of contempt of parliament charges.

Auckland University's Fuimaono Dylan Asafo said the move undermines Samoa's democracy:

"What we have are two electorates no longer being able to have representation in parliament which means that laws, many laws, over a two year period, are being able to be made without their interests being considered and represented by their elected representative," he said.

Fuimaono said the constitution states, every electorate needs to be represented and people have a right to vote for someone who will represent them in parliament, to take that representation away is unconstitutional.

A spokesperson for Tuilaepa's Lepa constituency, Auelua Samuelu Enari, said they will not be entertaining him ever resigning over the suspension.

He said the constituency's support for the suspended former prime minister is "steadfast and unwavering".