Published On: Thu, Nov 15th, 2018

Bonaire agrees to ‘light supervision’

KRALENDIJK – After the Island Council of Bonaire approved the 22-page governing agreement with the Netherlands, State Secretary Raymond Knops and Lt. Governor Edison Rijna signed the document on behalf of both parties. The agreement is in place for the next four years and aims to strengthen the local administration and the civil service; it also makes funding available for projects that will benefit the island and its population.

The agreement is a notch or two below the Dutch intervention in Statia, where the Island Council and the Executive Council were relieved of their duties and where kingdom representative Mike Franco is now calling the shots. But Bonaire is still under ‘light supervision.’

The opposition party MPB of Elvis Tjin Asjoe voted in favor of the agreement, The only island council member who opposes the deal is Clark Abraham (PDB). He withheld his vote.

The cooperation of the opposition with the agreement is important because it takes away fears about the possible effects of the elections that are scheduled for next year. All parties with the exception of Clark Abraham agree with the measures the kingdom has now put in place.

In January of this year Knops urged the Executive Council to present plans for the improvement of integrity and financial management.

Knops said at a press conference after the signing ceremony that the agreement does not infringe upon Bonaire’s democratic rights. The competences of the Executive Council, the Island Secretary and the Lt. Governor do not change. But there will be a new sheriff in town: the manager of a project bureau will monitor whether Bonaire sticks to the agreements it made with the Netherlands.

The project manager must be non-partisan and familiar with the language and the culture of the Bonaireans.

Clark Abraham’s Partido Demokrátiko Boneriano (PDB) has one seat in the island council; Abraham did not vote in favor of the agreement with the kingdom – in fact, he did not vote at all.

He told Caribisch Netwerk that he does not understand why the Netherlands came up with the governing accord just five months before the island council elections that are scheduled for March 20, 2019. “You have to offer a community its self-cleaning potential and give it a chance to choose its own leaders through a democratic process.”

Abraham’s motion to give the government that will take office after the 2019-elections the option to adjust the governing accord fell one vote short: the island council voted 5-4 against. The island council also rejected his motion to postpone the signing of the accord until after the elections.

Abraham noted that the current Executive Council is incompetent in the field of financial management and unreliable when it comes to abiding by agreements.

“The sentiment on the island is already going towards self-cleaning. That need is there,” Abraham was quoted as saying.

Based on the governing accord the Netherlands will make funding available for road maintenance, social housing, job mediation, day care, agriculture and social-economic development. However, if Bonaire does not stick to the agreements, State Secretary Knops will freeze those funds on the spot.