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World > Oceania > Samoa > Government and Political Conditions (Notes)

Samoa - Government and Political Conditions (Notes)


GOVERNMENT
The 1960 Constitution, which formally came into force with independence, is based on the British Westminster parliamentary system, modified to take account of Samoan customs. Samoa's two high chiefs at the time of independence were given lifetime appointments to jointly hold the office of head of state. Malietoa Tanumafili II has held this post alone since the death of his colleague in 1963. His eventual successor will be selected by the legislature for a 5-year term.

The unicameral legislature (Fono) contains 49 members serving 5-year terms. Forty-seven are elected from territorial districts by ethnic Samoans districts; the other two are chosen by non-Samoans on separate electoral rolls. Universal suffrage was extended in 1990, but only chiefs (matai) may stand for election to the Samoan seats. The voting age is 21 years and over. There are more than 30,000 matais in the country, about 8% of whom are women. The prime minister is chosen by a majority in the Fono and is appointed by the head of state to form a government. The prime minister's choices for the 12 cabinet positions are appointed by the head of state, subject to the continuing confidence of the Fono.

The judicial system is based on English common law and local customs. The Supreme Court is the court of highest jurisdiction. Its chief justice is appointed by the head of state upon the recommendation of the prime minister.

Principal Government Officials
Head of State--His Highness MALIETOA Tanumafili II
Head of Government--Prime Minister TUILA'EPA Aiono Sailele Malielegoai
Ambassador to the United States--Ali'ioaga Feturi ELISAIA

Samoa maintains its diplomatic representation in the United States at 800 2nd Avenue, Suite 400D, New York, NY 10017; tel: 212-599-6196.


Facts at a Glance: Geography - People - Government - Economy - Communications - Transportation - Military - Climate - Current Time - Ranking Positions
Notes and Commentary: People - Economy - Government and Political Conditions - Historical Highlights - Foreign Relations



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Current Time
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Notes and Commentary
People
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Historical Highlights
Foreign Relations





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