Published On: Mon, Dec 20th, 2021

Draft COHO-law hits another stumbling block

PHILIPSBURG — Contrary to earlier optimistic reports, the draft consensus kingdom law COHO (Caribbean Development and Reform Organization) is not ready to be sent to the parliaments of the four countries until the four governments reach an agreement about an amendment, Emile Vaessen, spokesman for outgoing State Secretary Raymond Knops confirmed on Monday.

The dispute between the Caribbean countries – St. Maarten, Curacao and Aruba – and the Netherlands surfaced after last Friday’s meeting of the Kingdom Council of Ministers.

Knops told journalists after the meeting that the three Caribbean countries refused to go along with an amendment to the law. However, he added, “there was no political support from the governments anyway.”

Knops said that an agreement about the amendment is necessary to move forward. “We have made agreements and we have to execute them.”

The state secretary pointed out that, without the consensus kingdom law, there is no legal basis for the measures detailed in the country packages. He also made clear that the countries will not receive any more liquidity support as long as they refuse to support the COHO-law.

“This law, including the amendment, had to go to the parliaments as soon as possible,” Knops said. “Only then will we have a consensus kingdom law.”

Parliamentarian Sarah Wescot-Williams (United Democrats) reacted with amazement to the situation. In a Facebook-post she wondered whether Knops had come up with an amendment that was not discussed before and she urged “somebody, anybody” to share the amendment with the countries.

“This secrecy thing has to stop. Citizens, like their representatives, should have sufficient time to analyze and form an opinion on matters that touch the core of our position in the Dutch kingdom.”

Wescot-Williams points out that the countries had an agreement about the COHO in August.  She wonders if the amendment that is now on the table dates back to that time or that it is a new one Knops attempted to sneak into the draft law.

“Would Knops and the prime minister agree to a face-to-face and let the people be the judge?” she wrote.


Photo caption: Caretaker Dutch State Secretary Raymond Knops. Photo taken from DossierKoninkrijksrelaties.nl.