Samoa’s former Prime Minister has pointed his finger at Jacinda Ardern, baselessly accusing her of plotting his removal from office in a bid to install a female prime minister.
Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, who was the prime minister of Samoa for more than 22 years, told TV1 that he was “suspicious” that New Zealand was “behind all of this”.
Tuilaepa was defeated by Fiame Naomi Mata’afa in an election upset earlier this year, and she has since become the country’s first female prime minister.
Tuilaepa had refused to accept his loss for months after the election, which saw legal challenges take place, and Fiame and her party locked out of parliament on the day her government was set to be sworn in. It was a constitutional crisis that threatened a peaceful transfer of power.
After the court ruled Fiame Naomi Mata’afa’s election win was valid, she took office in late July. Jacinda Ardern was the first world leader to congratulate her and called it an “historic moment for Samoa’s democracy” on social media.
Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has alleged Ardern’s congratulatory message was proof she had planned Fiame’s victory all along, because she wanted Samoa to have a female prime minister.
“The government [of New Zealand] has been heavily involved,” he said during the televised programme. “It got me thinking about a lot of the things that have happened recently.”
“It looks like the New Zealand Prime Minister wanted Samoa to have a female prime minister.
“Which has blinded her [Jacinda Ardern] from seeing if it’s something that is in line with our constitution.The proof is, as soon as the decision was handed down, the Prime Minister of New Zealand immediately sent her congratulatory message.
“The way I see the whole scenario, it looks like a concert they have worked on for a long time.
“The fact that she quickly sent Fiame her well wishes makes me think that they had planned all of this.”
A spokesperson for Ardern has rejected all of these far-fetched claims, saying they are unfounded.
Fiame, who has 36 years of parliamentary experience under belt, defected from Tuilaepa’s Human Rights Protection Party last year, and won the election as the leader of a new party, called Faatuatua ile Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST).
She has been outspoken about being a role model of girls and women, and wants to see more women in the political landscape.
“I’ve always been conscious of the fact that I’m a role model and of course I’ve been a very strong advocate of women’s participation in politics,” she said during the election.
“The message for women, particularly young women, is that once you open the door you can do this.”