State and politics
According to the 1962 Constitution, Samoa is a
constitutional monarchy. Malietoa Tanumafili II is the
lifetime governor unless he is dismissed by Parliament,
Fono. He can dissolve this assembly, whose 49 members
are elected every five years in general suffrage, but only
Mataians - elected clan leaders - are eligible, with the
exception of two non-Samoan members. The head of state
appoints the prime minister on Fono's proposal.
Prime Minister (since 1988) Tofilau Eti Alesana heads the
Human Rights Protection Party, which in the April
1996 elections occupied 28 seats. The opposition party
Samoan National Development Party received 14 seats,
and independent candidates 7 seats. Tofilau Eti Alesana was
re-elected prime minister, thus becoming the political
leader in the Pacific who sat at the top of this post.
Samoa is an alliance-free state but is closely linked to
New Zealand. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how WSM can stand for Samoa.
The legal system in Samoa consists mainly of imported
English law, before independence introduced New Zealand law
and local custom regarding right to land. Supreme courts are
the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal.
A special court, the Land and Titles Court, is
examining questions about the right to land.
The death penalty was abolished for all crimes in 2004,
but was considered abolished already when the country became
independent in 1962.