A statement issued on Monday evening by the country’s attorney general seemed to bear out that assessment. The official, Savalenoa Mareva Betham Annandale, an ally of Mr. Tuilaepa’s, declared the swearing-in unlawful and said everyone involved was subject to civil and criminal prosecution.
The delays could put Mr. Tuilaepa closer to his goal of a return to the polls.
“A second election would be an absolute farce,” said Patricia O’Brien, an expert on the region at the Australian National University. “You can’t trust any of these officials anymore to run a clean election because Tuilaepa wants a foregone conclusion — which is that he wins.”
For Samoans on either side of the political divide, seeing Ms. Mata’afa, a respected veteran of Samoan politics, locked outside Parliament House was a highly emotional moment, said Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson, a scholar and journalist based in Samoa. Feelings ran especially high as people there began to sing historical Samoan protest songs, she said.
“People were singing songs about our Mau movement,” she said, referring to Samoa’s peaceful movement for independence. “One of the leaders of the Mau movement was Fiame’s grandfather. No matter which side you’re on, that is just a very, very emotional thing to witness.”
For the most part, she said, supporters of both parties have remained loyal to their side throughout the process, though some H.R.P.P. voters appeared to be deterred by what seemed to many to be a power grab by Mr. Tuilaepa.
Around the region, governments encouraged Samoan officials to follow the will of the people.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand voiced her support for Samoa’s judiciary. “Here in New Zealand, we have complete faith in Samoa’s institutions, and that includes its judiciary,” she told reporters. “Our call would be to maintain and uphold the rule of law and that democratic outcome.”