Asia

Samoa profile - Leaders

  • 25 March 2016
  • From the section Asia

Head of state: Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi

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Image caption Tupua first entered parliament in 1966

Former prime minister Tupua was elected head of state by parliament for a five-year term in 2007 on the death of paramount chief Malietoa Tanumafili II, who had been in office since independence. With the election of Tupua, Samoa switched from being a constitutional monarchy to being a republic.

Born in 1938, Tupua is an academic historian and a member of one of the leading extended families of the country.

He entered parliament as a Christian Democrat MP in 1966, and served as prime minister in 1976-82 and deputy prime minister in 1985-88.

Prime minister: Tuila'epa Sailele Malielegaoi

Prime Minister Tuila'epa's ruling Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) gained a landslide victory in parliamentary polls in March 2016, heralding a fifth term for the premier.

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Image caption Tuila'epa Sailele Malielegaoi, in office since 1998

The HRPP won 47 seats in the 49-seat Samoan parliament, the Fono. The main opposition Tautua Samoa Party (TSP) won the remaining two seats.

In order to boost female representation in parliament - in line with a recent amendment to the Samoan constitution - an extra seat was then created for a female candidate, taking the number of seats in the Fono up to 50 for the first time.

Mr Tuila'epa first became prime minister - Samoa's sixth - in 1998 when his predecessor, Tofilau Eti Alesana, resigned on health grounds after 16 years in the job. He subsequently won the 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016 general elections.

Born in 1945 and an economist by training, Mr Tuila'epa was educated in Samoa and New Zealand, where he gained a master's degree - the first Samoan to do so.

In 1978 he moved to Brussels to work for the European Economic Community. He entered the Fono two years later, while simultaneously working as a partner in the accounting firm Coopers and Lybrand.

All but two of the seats in the Fono are reserved for ethnic Samoans and only the heads of extended families, known as "matai", may stand for election to them. The Fono selects the prime minister.