Council Sint Maarten moves to dissolve parliament, call new elections

PHILIPSBURG--The Council of Ministers have invoked Article 59 of the Constitution to dissolve parliament and send voters back to the polls for new elections.

If elections are held it would be to elect the ninth parliament in nine years since St. Maarten became a country within the Dutch Kingdom on October 10, 2010.  

Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin made the announcement on the invoking of Article 59 at what was called an urgent Council of Ministers press conference on Monday, the invitation of which was received three minutes before it was scheduled to start.
 
In a statement read during the live broadcast, the PM levelled a number of accusations against coalition and opposition MPs as well as of ministers within the Council. She alluded to statements she made last week that the current political impasse would have been addressed and clarity sought when Governor Eugene Holiday had returned to the country and she would have then informed the population.
 
She said “a culture of fear” increasingly governed the now former United Democrats/St. Maarten Christian Party (UD/SMCP) coalitional, which “created a toxic, unworkable environment.”
 
“The country became ungovernable with individual coalition Members of Parliament, who thought they should dictate what the Council of Ministers or individual ministers should do in disregard of the constitution” and in contravention of the oath they had taken. She said the Council was aware that there were “influential people outside of parliament” who had been actively trying to “take the driver’s seat” while “sitting in the back and not being accountable. Unfortunately, we had to conclude and they have won.”
 
She also accused coalition MPs of “secretly and openly” siding with opposition MPs and holding the coalition “hostage” or threatening to do so. Government, she added, is also cognizant of “the tactics to dismantle the Council of Ministers until a weakened COM was in place and they would control the majority of the COM.” The council is also cognizant of the sabotage in the Council of Ministers, she added.
 
Romeo-Marlin said having members “move to the other side of the isle” does no guarantee the stability and unity that the country needs, hence the Council of Ministers invoked Article 59 of the Constitution to allow “the voters of St. Maarten the opportunity to decide on the future of St. Maarten.”
 
She went on to outline the mandate given to the Council in the governing programme and what had been accomplished. She also indicated that she had no intention to continue in politics in the current environment.
 
The move by the Council of Ministers on Sunday was done on the same day as the announcement of a new majority nine-member coalition which included the National Alliance (NA), United St. Maarten (US) party and newly declared Independent Members of Parliament (MPs) Dr. Luc Mercelina and Chanel Brownbill. The new nine-member coalition, leaves the UD/SMCP coalition with five seats in the 15-seat parliament.
 
The UD/SMCP coalition was placed in limbo when UD faction leader MP Franklin Meyers announced during the closing of the parliamentary year that he was pulling his support from the coalition. He later declared himself independent, but said he was open to talks with the coalition he broke ties with. He later issued a lengthy statement outlining his reasons for leaving the coalition, but gave no clear indication about what his next step would have been.
 
Chairperson of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams and Deputy Chair Claude “Chacho” Peterson on Sunday resigned from their chair and deputy chair posts. 
 
The Daily Herald

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