Hundreds of Samoan women stage peaceful march to add another female MP to parliament

Hundreds of women dressed in white have staged a peaceful march in support of adding a sixth female Member of Parliament (MP) in Samoa.

The Supreme Court has already ruled adding the extra MP, Aliimalemanu Alofa Tuuau, who's a member of the HRPP Party, was unconstitutional.

Law requires that 10 percent of MPs are women. 

The Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) has been arguing that the five female MPs elected after the April 9 election only made up 9.8 percent of the required 10 percent threshold.

The group was made up of supporters of the HRPP, led by caretaker Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi.

Tuilaepa said the Supreme Court decision is being appealed.

In a speech to supporters on Monday, Tuilaepa again raised concerns about the FAST Party swearing themselves in, saying this was "in defiance of the suspension [of Parliament] by the Head of State's proclamation."

The Head of State, Afioga Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II, initially said Parliament should resume as is required by the Constitution. But just before it was due to happen on May 24, he issued a brief statement saying it was "suspended" - without explaining a reason for his decision. 

Parliament was then locked, prompting FAST Party MPs to hold a swearing in ceremony on the lawn outside.

Tuialepa said as key officials were absent from FAST's swearing in, it was unlawful.

"HRPP condemns this dangerous and unlawful attempt by the FAST Party to seize power," he told supporters.

"Much has been said about the rule of law in the local and foreign press, and as well there was much misrepresentation of facts by the social media. This caretaker government upholds the rule of law."

Tuilaepa said he was confident the political impasse would be resolved soon.  

"We are humbled that the international community respects and is concerned about Samoa. Stability, peace and the safety of our people are our main concern," he said.

Samoa celebrates it's 59th year of independence on Tuesday, with Tuilaepa saying the country's facing "one of the most difficult times in its history."

The FAST Party won the most seats in April's election and leader and Prime Minister-elect Fiame Naomi Mata'afa has repeatedly called on Tuilaepa to hand over power, likening his behaviour to a "bloodless coup."