Published On: Tue, Jan 9th, 2018

“Interim-government by the end of this week”

Sarah Wescot-Williams 20180109 - HHPHILIPSBURG – “I already presented my report to the Governor and I hope that the process will be completed by the end of this week,’ formateur Sarah Wescot-Williams said at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. The formateur expects that the interim-government can be presented by Friday.

“It is important to get out this situation now,” Wescot-Williams said. “The Parliament does not support the caretaker government and it has no instruments left to hold the government accountable.”

Wescot-Williams took some time to discuss the screening process candidate ministers have to go through. “The dynamics of this process are changing compared to 2010,” she observed.

The screening is regulated by national decree, not by a national ordinance. “In my opinion we have to bring the pre-screening process into the law,” Wescot-Williams said.

Currently, St. Maarten only has a national ordinance to promote the integrity of ministers. But Curacao has legislation that regulates the integrity of ministers pre-screening and while they are in office.”

Wescot-Williams said that there must also be consensus about the content of her formation report. This is because the appointment of ministers is done by national decree; the appointments are approved by the government and co-signed by the Governor.

The formation of an interim-government hit a snag earlier when formateur Franklin Meyers stumbled over his own screening. He was to become the interim prime minister but after he failed the screening he gave his formation-task back to the Governor who subsequently appointed Wescot-Williams as his successor.

Wescot-Williams is still struggling with the current process, especially after she found that the government is violating the constitution by setting the date to install the new Parliament at April 2. According to the Constitution, the new Parliament has to be in place within three months after a government has dissolved Parliament and called elections.

In this case, the government dissolved Parliament on November 2 – setting the initial deadline for a new parliament at February 2 – but it later amended the decree on November 12, moving the date ten days further into the future.

However, by setting the date for the elections at February 26, installing a new Parliament within the prescribed three months became impossible.

There is a reason for the 3-month period stipulated in the Constitution, Wescot-Williams said. “It should never be possible to dissolve the Parliament and then leave the date when the new Parliament will sit up to the government.”

Wescot-Williams has asked interim prime minister Rafael Boasman whether he agrees that exceeding the three-month term violates the Constitution and what he intends to do about it.

Back in November, the new majority in Parliament approved in rapid succession four motions that all objected to holding elections – given the fact that the new majority in Parliament was prepared to form a new government.

On November 2, a motion stated that the majority “commits to spare the people of St. Maarten any further political uncertainty and any talk of elections during these difficult times.”

A week later, a second notion declared that “the Parliament disapproves of the decision of the government to dissolve Parliament and hold premature elections.”

The next day motion number three arrived. This one urged the government “to introduce the decree of dissolution of Parliament, dated November 3, 2017 to the agenda of the next meeting of the Kingdom Council of Ministers and to promote the nullification on the basis of section 22 of the regulations for the Governor of St. Maarten.”

On the same day, motion number four stated that considering “the total disregard for the petitions, expressions and general sentiments of the people of St. Maarten, that an election in January 2018 as promulgated by the prime minister is adding insult to injury, is morally unfair and uncaring.”

With the preparations for the February 26 elections well underway – Nomination day and Endorsement day are already behind us – the interim government may still consider canceling the elections. But to arrive at such a decision, Wescot-Williams said, the government will have to weigh all aspects.”

Sarah Wescot-Williams 20180109 - HH

Photo caption: Formateur Sarah Wescot-Williams during Tuesday’s press conference. Photo Hilbert Haar.

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