Published On: Sat, Mar 2nd, 2024

Screening troubles slow down the formation of a new government

PHILIPSBURG — The formation of a new government will take at least 78 days. This appears from a press release from Governor Ajamu Baly based on an update from formateur Dr. Luc Mercelina. The release states that the screening of candidate ministers is still ongoing and that Mercelina needs more time to present the new government. Governor Baly asked him to present his final report by March 29.

Mercelina is working on a government consisting of his own party Unified Resilient St. Maarten Movement (URSM), the Democratic Party (DP), Nation Opportunity Wealth (NOW) and the Party for Progress (PFP). But the screening of candidate ministers is apparently not going smoothly. Hence the request for more time.

NOW-leader Christophe Emmanuel has reportedly withdrawn his candidacy for a ministerial post. NOW’s number two candidate Claudius Buncamper is also not eligible to become a minister, given his 2021-conviction to 32 months of imprisonment for (among other charges) bribery, which resulted in his suspension as a member of parliament.

The apparent struggle to find proper candidates to fill the ministers-posts is most likely based on a ruling at the Court in First Instance in Curacao. This court ruled in February that Ramon Chong was justly banned from becoming Minister of Economic Development in the Pisas I government after the elections in March 2021.

Chong was sentenced to a 2-month conditional prison sentence in 2003 for forgery, fraud and taking bribes in 2003. The screening of candidate-ministers brought his conviction to light. The court dismissed Chong’s argument that the statute of limitation had expired. Judge Tamara Nijhis ruled that the nature of Chong’s offense is inconsistent with an appointment as a minister. The court ruled that he was correctly banned from becoming a minister.

Ministerial candidates in the pool of the four parties that want to form a new government in St. Maarten are well aware of the court ruling. Anyone with a conviction to his or her name is surely going to be disqualified for a position in the new Council of Ministers. Even if that conviction is, as the Chong-ruling shows, more than twenty years old.


Date: March 1, 2024

Governor Baly receives update on formation from formateur Mercelina

Harbour View – On the 28th of February 2024, the Governor of Sint Maarten, His Excellency Mr. A.G. Baly met with formateur Dr. L.F.E. Mercelina and received an update on the progress regarding the pending points of the formation. Considering that the background screening of candidate ministers is still ongoing, the formateur therefore requested a further extension of his commission to form a new government.

Governor Baly as a result and having assessed the situation extended the commission for Dr. Mercelina to present him the final report of the formation process by March 29, 2024.