Published On: Fri, Sep 27th, 2019

A culture of fear and sabotage

PHILIPSBURG – The Cupecoy shadow government raises its ugly head in the national decree that invokes article 59 to dissolve parliament and in the address State Secretary Raymond Knops would have delivered to the central committee if parliamentarians had taken the trouble to show up and allow this meeting to continue. Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin also referred to outside influences.

The speech Knops did not get to deliver contains the following line. “The fact that the reconstruction has taken so long to finally start is for one simple reason: it has been the counteracting and undermining of certain influential powers constantly working against this deal and trying to sabotage the process.

And (now outgoing) Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin mentions in the national decree: “That undue influence from outside the parliament and the Council of Ministers destabilizes the administrative process due to which the constitutional principle of trias politica cannot be guaranteed.

During an urgent press conference last Monday, September 23, it became clear who the perceived saboteurs of the outgoing government are according to the prime minister. Ministers Stuart Johnson (Tourism and Economic Affairs) and Minister Chris Wever (VROMI) did not attend the press conference, while Minister Geerlings (Finance), De Weever (Justice) and Smith (Education) were present to show their support for Romeo-Marlin.  The latter identified in her address also the two saboteurs in parliament: MPs Luc Mercelina and Chanel Brownbill.

“A culture of fear increasingly governed the now former coalition,” Romeo-Marlin said on Monday. “Many individual MPs thought that they should dictate what the Council of Ministers or individual ministers should do, with complete disregard for our constitution and in violation of the oath of office they have taken.”

The trias politica – the separation of powers –  was “constantly in jeopardy,” the prime minister said, before addressing the Cupecoy shadow government without calling it by its name: “We were aware that there are influential people outside of parliament actively attempting to take the country’s driver’s seat while comfortably sitting in the back and not being accountable.. Unfortunately, they have won.”

Romeo-Marlin did not stop there. “We knew that there were coalition members secretly or even openly siding with the opposition. We were cognizant of the sabotage within the Council of Ministers. Having these members (of parliament – ed.) moved to the other side of the aisle – a reference to Brownbill and Mercelina – “does not guarantee the unity and stability the country needs,” she said.

The prime minister pointed out that her coalition got the mandate to work with the Netherlands and the World Bank in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. “This Council of Ministers stayed the course, despite the criticism, the sabotage and the deliberate defamation. My conscience is clear and my hands are clean. I always operated in a transparent, open and integer manner. It is integrity or nothing.”

Romeo-Marlin noted that the World Bank and European Investment Bank funding for the airport reconstruction closes on October 7: “Unless the political turmoil results in investors pulling back.”

“I have nothing to gain from elections,” the prime minister said towards the end of her address. “I have no interest in continuing in politics in the current environment.”

Raymond Knops - 2018020801 HHState Secretary Knops touted in his speech the reconstruction efforts that are financed from the World Bank trust fund. “Almost a thousand houses have been repaired and the repairs on 500 more is about to begin. Over 1,300 students have graduated from the hospitality and construction courses funded by the trust fund. The hospital will receive $25 million and will be built to category 5 hurricane standards with the help of the trust fund. Over $300 million has already been earmarked for projects and more than $200 million can still be guided towards projects that will help with the reconstruction.”

Knops also warned politicians about their reluctance to implement anti money laundering legislation. “Do all you can to prevent an official statement from the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force. This would have a devastating effect on your economy and your people. American tourists getting off a cruise ship would no longer be able to use their credit cards to spend their US dollars on Front Street.”

Knops called for cooperation: “I believe we can achieve more by working together. Working against each other does not benefit the people of St. Maarten.”

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Related links:
Sarah: Accusations in national decree should be taken seriously
COM URGENT PRESS CONFERENCE CALLING FOR ELECTIONS SEPTEMBER 23rd 2019
Dutch State Secretary Knops’ prepared speech for Parliament