Samoa - Government

Executive power is vested in the head of state. Although Malietoa Tanumafili II, head of state in 1962, had lifetime tenure, the constitution took effect 1 January that year; it provides for his successors to be elected for a term of five years by the Fono, or legislative assembly. The powers and functions of the head of state are far-reaching. All legislation must have his assent before it becomes law. He also has power to grant pardons and reprieves and to suspend or commute any sentence by any court. Executive authority is administered by a cabinet consisting of a prime minister and 12 other ministers appointed by him. The head of state and the cabinet members comprise the executive council.

The 49-member parliament consists of the head of state and the Fono. Forty-seven Samoan members are elected out of the approximately 20,000 matai—traditional chiefs or heads of families—in six two-seat and 35 single-seat constituencies. The election of the 47 Samoan members is by universal adult suffrage. Citizens of non-Samoan origin who qualify for registration on the individual voters' roll elect the two other members by universal suffrage.

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