|Prime Minister of the|
Independent State of
|Palemia o le Malo Tuto‘atasi o Sāmoa|
|Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet|
|Style||Madam Prime Minister |
|Type||Head of government|
|Appointer||O le Ao o le Malo|
|Term length||Five years, renewable|
|Constituting instrument||Constitution of Samoa|
|Precursor||Leader of Government Business|
|Inaugural holder||Fiamē Mataʻafa Faumuina Mulinuʻu II|
|Formation||1 October 1959|
|Deputy||Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa|
The prime minister of the Independent State of Samoa (Samoan: Palemia o le Malo Tuto’atasi o Sāmoa) is the head of government of Samoa. The prime minister is a member of the Legislative Assembly, and is appointed by the O le Ao o le Malo (Head of State) for a five-year term. Since independence in 1962, a total of seven individuals have served as prime minister. The incumbent was disputed due to the 2021 constitutional crisis, when Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi refused to accept the results of the 2021 general election. On 23 July 2021, the Samoan Court of Appeal ruled that the Faʻatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) party had been in government since 24 May. Tuila'epa then conceded defeat, resulting in FAST party leader Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa becoming prime minister.
The first prime minister during the colonial period was Albert Barnes Steinberger, who originally represented the American government in the Samoan Islands but was close to German commercial interests. After the indigenous authorities of the islands adopted the Constitution of 1873, Steinberger was appointed Prime Minister by King Malietoa Laupepa in July 1875. He held this post for seven months before the British and American consuls in the country persuaded Laupepa to dismiss him, seeing his role as German interference in the islands. Over the next two decades, there was no prime minister in the country, and in 1899 Samoa fell under the colonial rule of the Western powers, being divided as a German colony and an American colony at the end of the Second Samoan Civil War, according to the terms of the Tripartite Convention.
At the beginning of the World War I, German Samoa was occupied by New Zealand in 1914, and was subsequently organized as a trust territory of New Zealand in 1920.
The position of prime minister replaced the office of the leader of government business in 1959, whilst the country was a territory of New Zealand. High chief Fiamē Mataʻafa Faumuina Mulinuʻu II became Samoa’s first prime minister on 1 October 1959.
After Samoa (then known as Western Samoa) gained independence on 1 January 1962, the prime minister's office remained intact, and the premiership of Fiamē Mata’afa continued. The head of state, or O le Ao o le Malo (initially held by two individuals), was established as a ceremonial office. In 1991, the legislative assembly passed a bill proposed by Prime Minister Tofilau Eti Alesana's Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) to increase the parliamentary term (and hence the premiership) from three to five years. Which therefore extended the time a prime minister can serve without renewing their mandate.
From 24 May to 23 July 2021, the premiership was in dispute due to an inconclusive result from the 2021 general election and the subsequent constitutional crisis. The claimants were long-serving prime minister Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi of the HRPP, and Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa of Faʻatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST), a former deputy prime minister and daughter of Fiamē Mataʻafa Faumuina Mulinuʻu II. On 23 July, the Supreme Court ruled that Fiamē Naomi’s FAST government was legitimate since 24 May. Tuila'epa conceded defeat on 26 July and ceded power the following day, resulting in Fiamē Naomi Mata‘afa becoming Samoa’s first female prime minister and ending nearly 40 years of HRPP rule.
The Constitution, adopted in 1960 during the transitional period of autonomy, provides that the executive power is vested in the head of state (O le Ao o le Malo), elected by the Legislative Assembly, and who acts only on the recommendation of the government. The head of state has royal assent powers to sign bills into law and dissolve Parliament. Executive power is exercised by the prime minister and their cabinet. The prime minister is appointed by the head of state as a member of the Legislative Assembly who enjoys the confidence of a majority in the Legislative Assembly (Article 32 (2) (a)). The prime minister may be removed from office by the Legislative Assembly (Article 33 (1) (b)). Samoa is thus a parliamentary democracy based on the Westminster system.
† Died in office
|Election||Term of office||Political party||Monarch|
|Took office||Left office||Time in office|
|1||Albert Barnes Steinberger
|—||22 May 1875||8 February 1876||262 days||Independent||Laupepa|
|Post abolished (8 February 1876 – 1 October 1959)|
|Term of office||Political party||O le Ao o le Malo|
(Head(s) of state)
|Took office||Left office||Time in office|
|1||Fiamē Mataʻafa Faumuina Mulinuʻu II
|1 October 1959||25 February 1970||10 years, 147 days||Independent||Meaʻole|
|2||Tupua Tamasese Lealofi IV
|1970 (4th)||25 February 1970||20 March 1973||3 years, 23 days||Tanumafili II|
|(1)||Fiamē Mataʻafa Faumuina Mulinuʻu II
|1973 (5th)||20 March 1973||20 May 1975 †||2 years, 61 days|
|—||Tupua Tamasese Lealofi IV
|– (5th)||21 May 1975||24 March 1976||308 days|
|3||Tui Ātua Tupua Tamasese Efi
|24 March 1976||13 April 1982||6 years, 20 days|
|1982 (8th)||13 April 1982||18 September 1982||158 days||HRPP|
|(3)||Tui Ātua Tupua Tamasese Efi
|– (8th)||18 September 1982||31 December 1982||104 days||Independent|
|5||Tofilau Eti Alesana
|31 December 1982||30 December 1985||2 years, 364 days||HRPP|
|– (9th)||30 December 1985||8 April 1988||2 years, 100 days|
|(5)||Tofilau Eti Alesana
|8 April 1988||23 November 1998||10 years, 229 days|
|6||Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi
|23 November 1998||24 May 2021||22 years, 182 days||Tanumafili II|
|7||Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa
|2021 (17th)||24 May 2021||Incumbent||1 year, 219 days||FAST||Sualauvi II|
As of December 2022 there are two former living Samoan prime ministers, as seen below.
The most recent former Samoan prime minister to die was Vaʻai Kolone (served 1982; 1985–1988), on 20 April 2001, aged 89.