SATURDAY, 11 MAY 2013
~ Duncan resigns as justice minister ~
PHILIPSBURG–National Alliance (NA) and independent Member of Parliament (MP) Frans Richardson want new elections to be called and in the interim their four ministers will not resign. This was the clear message from NA leader/Deputy Prime Minister William Marlin on the current political shake-up that has left the NA-led coalition without majority support in Parliament.
“We will not resign. We believe that Parliament needs to be dissolved. … We are in for a Mexican standoff. … Order has to be brought back to the political arena.”
Speaking at a press conference at Government Administration Building on Friday afternoon, Marlin said, “Our position has been and will continue to be: Let us go back to the polls. Let the people decide … We are not budging on the resignation.” He was accompanied at the press conference by Roland Tuitt, NA parliamentarians George Pantophlet and Louie Laveist; and Richardson.
The people will be able to say what they think about the parties and their candidates in an election, he said. “The people need to be given an opportunity to decide” on the fate of all politicians.
Originally, all five ministers appointed by NA and independent MPs Richardson and Patrick Illidge had refused to resign on the request of Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams (Democratic Party) on Tuesday. Instead they signed and submitted a letter to her outlining the need to dissolve Parliament and for her to prepare the necessary national decree and prepare for elections.
Now, Justice Minister Roland Duncan, nominated by Illidge, has tendered his resignation leaving Marlin, Finance Minister Tuitt, Tourism and Economic Affairs Minister Romeo Pantophlet and Education Minister Silveria Jacobs in their call for elections based on Article 59 of the Constitution.
Duncan announced his resignation at a justice event on Wednesday afternoon. He told the gathering: “This is my last public appearance as minister of justice” because at 4:00pm he faxed his resignation letter to Governor Eugene Holiday. “But, it is not all bad news, now I get to go on pension.”
Marlin said Wescot-Williams has refused to accept the position of the four ministers and has ignored a request for an extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers for Friday. He sees this as the prime minister “buying time” until Monday when a plenary session of Parliament will be held on the request of NA and Richardson. He anticipates that the new majority will use that opportunity to table motions of no confidence. He said there will be “no majority” come Monday and that statement should be taken in whatever way people want to take it.
He confirmed that he has met with Governor Eugene Holiday several times since Tuesday on the political situation. That situation was created by DP parliamentarians Leroy de Weever and Roy Marlin together with independent MP Romain Laville pulling their support from the present coalition.
He said he had learnt about them pulling their support at Fish Day in French Cul-de-Sac, when the prime minister asked him in Dutch if he knows about “the letter of three,” in reference to the three MPs who have pulled their support. He said he then asked if he should “pack up his office come Monday” and she said “Yeah.”
On Tuesday, the prime minister attended the Council of Ministers meeting and wanted to discuss the resignation of her cabinet based on the coalition no longer having support in Parliament, Marlin said. He pointed out that “Parliament did not take a decision,” because a letter signed by eight MPs doesn’t constitute a decision of Parliament.
The circumstances in which the country finds itself are “not normal” and this is why the prime minister’s request for the ministers to resign had been “anticipated” and the five ministers had come with the proposal to dissolve Parliament, he said.
When she refused to put the proposal for elections to a vote in the meeting “an argument” erupted between her and Duncan, who has subsequently resigned.
Marlin said Wescot-Williams is creating the impression that she is the only one who can sign to dissolve Parliament. “That is ludicrous,” because it is the Council of Ministers that takes the decision and the Prime Minister is ordered by the Council to call out the decision.
The deputy prime minister said the impression has been created that the ministers don’t want to leave, but this far from the true, because they are safeguarding the interest of the country by seeking new elections and preventing a third Wescot-Williams Cabinet with a minority in Parliament with only two of the 15 seats. The first Wescot-Williams cabinet “should not have been in the first place,” because NA had the majority of seats after the September 2010 elections.
Marlin said his refusal to resign is not based on wanting to stay in government, because no one has left government as many times as he. “This is something I am used to.”
A “frantic attempt” is being made in the community by the new majority to get people to create “the impression” of a business cabinet, because UP leader Theo Heyliger will not be able to pass the screening to become a minister due to “investigations” against him.
He said this new political move by UP, DP and Laville will take St. Maarten back to 2010, when they were in government, as “political power will be in the same hands as before.”
Marlin questioned how much Laville had been paid to switch sides, especially after he had filed a complaint with the Prosecutor’s Office against Heyliger several weeks ago claiming that he had tried to exhort undue pressure on him. Laville had said on Wednesday that he had not been paid.
Laville “suddenly changed” his mind “without any sign of problems or a crack in the wall,” after supporting the 2013 budget and getting a number of motions passed in April, among them one in support of the planned justice park.
Marlin also raised the issue of the Bada Bing tape that the brothel owner has claimed was created at the request of Heyliger as an attempt to get back in government.
He said the people are fed up of the constant changes and there is even a signature drive ongoing in support of new elections. “They don’t want this nonsense.”
Addressing why he did not take the prime minister’s post in May 2012, Marlin said DP wanted it and he had no problem with it, because he was for working for the people.
SATURDAY, 11 MAY 2013
HARBOUR VIEW–Governor Eugene Holiday has confirmed receipt of several letters submitted by Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams related to the ongoing political developments in the country. In a press statement, issued Friday evening, he stopped short of saying whether he would meet with the various players to map out a way forward.
Further, Governor Holiday, following various discussions, received a letter dated May 10, from Wescot-Williams with an overview and her observations of the current political situation for his consideration. No further details on that overview were given in the press statement.
The governor received on Monday, from Wescot-Williams a letter signed by Democratic Party Parliamentarians Roy Marlin and Leroy de Weever as well as independent Member of Parliament (MP) Romain Laville, in which they informed the governor of their withdrawal of support from the present National Alliance/DP/independent three coalition. The letter was submitted by the trio to Wescot-Williams who forwarded it to the governor.
The government also received on the same day, also from Wescot-Williams, another letter signed by the five United People’s (UP) party MPs, two DP MPs and Laville, in which they informed him of their willingness to form the next government. The letter included an attached governing declaration signed by UP leader Theo Heyliger, Wescot-Williams as DP leader and eight MPs.
The governor received on Friday, the resignation of Justice Minister Roland Duncan as a result of the declaration of withdrawal of support from the government by the eight MPs.
ZATERDAG, 11 MEI 2013
PHILIPSBURG — Justitieminister Roland Duncan heeft op gisteren zijn ontslag aangeboden aan gouverneur Eugène Holiday. Vier andere ministers weigeren vooralsnog af te treden. Vicepremier William Marlin zei op een door hem belegde persconferentie dat hij vasthoudt aan de ontbinding van het parlement, gevolgd door nieuwe verkiezingen.
Dat meldt correspondent Hilbert Haar op Caribisch Netwerk. Afgelopen maandag ontving de gouverneur een brief van de tweemansfractie van de Democratische Partij en het onafhankelijk parlementslid Romain Laville, waarin staat dat zij hun steun aan de coalitie hadden ingetrokken. Op dezelfde dag overhandigde minister-president Sarah Wescot-Williams de gouverneur een brief, getekend door de vijf leden van de Verenigde Volkspartij UP, de Democratische Partij fractie en Laville waarin zij hun bereidheid een nieuwe regering te vormen aangaven.
De groep van acht diende ook een regeringsverklaring in bij de gouverneur, die mede is ondertekend door UP-leider Theo Heyliger, DP-leider Wescot-Williams en de acht parlementsleden die de nieuwe meerderheid vormen
Op dinsdag ontstond een knallende ruzie in de ministerraad tussen met name Wescot-Williams en Duncan, omdat Wescot-Williams weigerde stappen te ondernemen om het parlement te ontbinden en nieuwe verkiezingen uit te schrijven zoals de meerderheid van de ministerraad wilde.
Vicepremier William Marlin zei gisteren dat hij vasthoudt aan de wens het parlement te ontbinden. Op maandag vergadert het parlement, maar volgens Marlin zal daar ‘geen meerderheid zijn voor moties van wantrouwen’ tegen de ministers die hem steunen.
Duncan heeft over de beraadslagingen in de ministerraad uit de school geklapt met gedetailleerde verklaringen die op een roddel-website verschenen. Hem hangt mogelijk vervolging wegens schending van het ambtsgeheim boven het hoofd. Het Openbaar Ministerie is op de hoogte van de uitlatingen die Duncan heeft gedaan maar heeft nog geen beslissing genomen over vervolging. Op schending van het ambtsgeheim staat boete of een gevangenisstraf van maximaal een jaar.