Published On: Sun, Jul 3rd, 2022

Minister Doran ducks PFP-motion of no confidence

PHILIPSBURG — The Party for Progress hit a brick wall during last week’s Parliament meeting about the Ombudsman-report that details everything that went wrong with the tender for solid waste collection for the period 2021-2026. The minister responsible for the dossier, Egbert Doran, maintained that he had fully cooperated with the Ombudsman’s investigation before ducking a motion of no confidence from the PFP by asking for “at least” two weeks to answer 21 simple questions from parliamentarians.

PFP-MPs Melissa Gumbs and Raeyhon Peterson stated in a press release after the meeting that the minister’s delaying tactics had not surprised them.

MP Gumbs made the intentions of her faction immediately clear at the beginning of the first round, stating that she would file a motion of no confidence against Minister Doran for his “numerous missteps, questionable decisions and outright legal violations” during his two-year tenure.

When Doran announced that he needed at least fourteen days to answer questions posed during the meeting, several parliamentarians started laughing. “It prompted parliament chairperson Grisha Heyliger-Marten to rhetorically ask, “You need two weeks to answer 21 questions?” the PFP-press release states.

Doran’s opening statement during the meeting seemed to be a repeat of a press release he had earlier sent out and in which he emphatically disagrees with the Ombudsman’s conclusion that the garbage-tender was neither fair nor transparent.

Gumbs said that the motion of no confidence is not designed to bring down the government but to call the minister to account. Peterson called the minister’s statement that the Ombudsman acted outside the scope of her investigation preposterous, because “the Ombudsman has the authority to investigate all objections and complaints from the people of St. Maarten against their government.”

MP Christophe Emmanuel, who supported the request for the meeting, criticized the minister’s “intense involvement” in the tender-process. He also questioned Doran’s reaction to the preliminary report: “Are you saying that the findings in this report are untrue? Are you saying that the Ombudsman is lying?”

National Alliance and UP-MPs did not even come close to questioning Minister Doran about the Ombudsman’s conclusions. MP George Pantophlet (NA) suggested that the minister was intensely involved with the tender “because the buck stops there.”

MP Rolando Brison thought it was opportune to ask the minister if he thinks that “there are things that could have been done better,” while MP Hyacinth Richardson rambled on about issues that had nothing to do with the agenda point.

Almost immediately after the meeting political developments intensified. MP Ludmilla Duncan left the National Alliance-faction to go independent, possibly in preparation for a move towards joining with the United People’s party or the PFP party.

As a result of this decision, the NA-UP coalition is now left with a flimsy one-seat majority in parliament. The reaction? The coalition approached other MPs in an attempt to strengthen their majority. With three independents in the parliament (Duncan, Akeem Arrindell and Christophe Emmanuel), a lone Buncamper-replacement in the USP (Chanel Brownbill), the two PFP-MPs (Gumbs and Peterson) and United Democrats-MP Sarah Wescot-Williams, the choices for the ruling parties are limited.

The Daly Herald reported that Brownbill and Arrindell have been approached by the leaders of NA and UP, though this report is unconfirmed.

NA and UP said in a press statement that the parties initiated talks with other MPs “in the interest of stability and continuity.”

Journalist and talkshow host, Ralph Cantave, published an article about a new coalition agreement being signed after he obtained a copy of a signed addendum to the existing coalition agreement under the condition of anonymity.

A reliable source confirmed that a physical copy of the addendum was brought to Panama for MP William Marlin to sign. After putting his signature to the document on Thursday, June 30, it was flown back to St. Maarten. According to reports and all indications over the weekend, MPs Grisha Heyliger-Marten and Ludmilla De Weever, both of the UP party, have not signed on to the new agreement. The new coalition agreement is said to have the full support of MPs Akeem Arrindell and Chanel Brownbil in exchange for the ministry of TEATT.

MP Marlin is currently in Panama for medical treatment. His absence in Parliament leaves the coalition with only 7 seats in Parliament supporting the Jacobs II cabinet. Should another motion of no confidence be brought forward against Minister Doran, the political situation could get very tricky.