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No Reason for HRPP to be Party in the Speakers Legal Challenge, says Counsel

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 05 MAY 2023: Counsel Muriel Lui, representing the three former Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) members Ale Vena Ale, Tu’u’u Anasi’i Leota and Mau’u Siaosi Pu’epu’emai informed the Court today that there are no valid reasons to allow HRPP as a party in the legal challenge against her clients.

Lui clarified that the case against her clients who are all Members of Parliament was filed by the Parliament Speaker, Papali’i Li’o Ta’eu Masipa’u when her clients declined to admit to the charge of vacating their seats after they resigned from HRPP.

HRPP however wanted to be a party or joiner in the case and whilst the office of the Attorney General who represents the Speaker is not opposing the application, Lui’s clients are.

No valid interest or legal grounds for the application
Lui argued that HRPP does not have any valid interest or legal grounds in the case but is trying to anticipate how the case affects them.

She pointed out that the law that governs such proceedings is very clear where a joiner is concerned and in the case of HRPP’s application, there is no real interest that affects them.

The only impact on HRPP is their membership and numbers which are not relevant to the original case brought by the Speaker against her clients.

Bad intention & ulterior motives
Counsel for HRPP, Fuimaono Sefo Ainu’u argued that the reasons why they wanted to be a party to the case proceedings are,

  • the circumstances surrounding the Respondents resignation from HRPP;
  • to Respond to the allegations by the Respondents;
  • The Respondents were members of HRPP and they competed with the support of HRPP in the general election 2021under the HRPP flag.

Fuimaono said the allegations by the Respondent was that the amendments to the Constitution and Electoral Act 2020 done by HRPP as the Government of the day then, were done with “bad intentions and with an ulterior motive.”

Fuimaono believes such allegations warrant an opportunity for the Applicants to respond to.

Relevancy of the resignation to the case
Presiding Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke questioned the relevance of the respondents’ resignations to the case brought by the Speaker.

He pointed out to Fuimaono that an application to be a party or joiner is brought by either the Applicant in the legal challenge or the Respondent.

“How is the resignation relevant to the proceedings?” he asked.

Fuimaono asked the Court to consider the circumstances of the resignation and with respect to the allegations of “bad intention and ulterior motive” which challenged the legality and validity of the amendments to the Acts done by HRPP at the time they were the Government of the day.

“That is why it is necessary for HRPP to be a party to the case,“ Fuimaono argued.

Justice Clarke asked Fuimaono if he knew of any Constitution done on a bad intention to which he said “no.”

Fuimaono also considered HRPP as an intervener in the case but Lui said an intervener is an independent body and a political party cannot be an intervener.

Justice Clarke has reserved his decision but has asked counsels to submit any supplementary authority they are aware of that would guide him.

He hopes to deliver his decision sooner so the original case could begin.