Parliament St. Maarten passes motion of no confidence against five ministers

PHILIPSBURG--Parliament on Wednesday passed a motion of no confidence against five of the six members of the Council of Ministers as well as the minister and deputy minister plenipotentiary, with an instruction for Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin and Justice Minister Cornelius de Weever “be removed from office effective immediately.”
 
  The no confidence motion was passed against Romeo-Marlin; De Weever; Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports (ECYS) Wycliffe Smith; Finance Minister Perry Geerlings; Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications Minister Stuart Johnson; Minister Plenipotentiary Jorien Wuite and Deputy Minister Plenipotentiary Michael Somersall.
 
  Minister of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Development and Infrastructure VROMI Christopher Wever was spared the motion of no confidence and will remain on as minister.
 
  The motion stated that the former governing coalition “crumbled on its own, imploded and fell apart and the decision to dissolve Parliament at this time and saddle the electorate with another election is selfish, politically motivated and a blatant abuse of our Constitution.”
 
  The motion, which was tabled by National Alliance (NA) Member of Parliament (MP) Silveria Jacobs, was passed by nine MPs from the new majority coalition voting in favour. There were no votes against as United Democrats (UD) MP Sarah Wescot-Williams had informed the chair that she had to leave early and the remaining UD members who attended the meeting (Tamara Leonard and Sidhart “Cookie” Bijlani) left the meeting hall before voting. Absent were independent MP Franklin Meyers; St. Maarten Christian Party (SMCP) MP Claude “Chacho” Peterson and UD MP Jules James.
 
  The motion strongly condemned the decision of the majority of the Council of Ministers to invoke Article 59 of the Constitution. It also instructed the caretaker Council of Ministers not to make any decisions collectively or individually to appoint or dismiss any members from any supervisory board or management board of any government-owned company or entity such as, but not limited to GEBE, TelEm, Princess Juliana International Airport holding company PJIAH, the Airport operating company PJIAE, St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation and the Harbour Group of Companies.
 
  It also instructed the caretaker Council of Ministers not to make any decisions collectively or individually with reference to the appointment of directors, consultants and personnel in general and not to enter into any contracts with third parties, whether collectively or individually.
 
  The considerations for the motion state that the Leona Romeo-Marlin II Cabinet lost its majority support in Parliament on September 9, 2019, when UD MP Franklin Meyers publicly stated on the floor of Parliament that he was no longer supporting government and that he could no longer remain part of the ruling coalition.
 
  Two days later, on September 11, Meyers confirmed his withdrawal of support from government in writing and confirmed that he was declaring himself an independent MP. “For more than a week, the Romeo-Marlin II cabinet continued to function in office and take decisions as if all was well. The loss of support of the cabinet which went on for two weeks without reaction or move on the part of government, created a serious sense of insecurity among the people of St. Maarten as it left the country without a legitimate government, strongly jeopardising the recovery of St. Maarten that was already moving at a very slow pace,” the motion read.
 
  On Sunday, September 22, MPs of the NA and United St. Maarten Party (US Party) and independent MPs Dr. Luc Mercelina and Chanel Brownbill signed a declaration informing Governor Eugene Holiday, Parliament and government that there was a new majority in Parliament prepared to support a new government.
 
  The motion continued that it was only following the announcement that the new majority had been formed in Parliament that is prepared to support a new government for St. Maarten, that the Council of Ministers “hurriedly” took a decision to invoke Article 59 of the Constitution and dissolve Parliament and announce snap elections to be held in November. According to the considerations, this politically motivated decision is further setting the recovery of St. Maarten back and is a clear misuse and abuse of the Constitution. “There is no conflict between Parliament and government and therefore no issue should be put before the people for the people to decide upon in snap elections,” the motion read.
 
  New Chairperson of Parliament NA MP William Marlin deviated from the norm and allowed all MPs to motivate their vote first and then all MPs voted on the motion.
 
  Several MPs from the new majority indicated why they would support the motion, while Leonard thanked Romeo-Marlin for her work in office, and shortly after left the hall before the voting.
 
The Daily Herald

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