PHILIPSBURG:--- The Council of Ministers got advices from four legal and constitutional experts. All of which SMN News managed to obtain. However, no one is speaking about the letter Governor Eugene Holiday sent to Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs and Minister of Interior and Overseas Affairs Ronald Plasterk where he informed both parties that he cannot honor the Landsbesluit sent to him by Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs asking that the Parliament of St. Maarten be dissolved. The four advices can be found beneath this article for everyone’s perusal. The letter that Governor Eugene Holiday dispatched is mentioned in one of the advice, the one written by Kortmann, so while SMN News did not see this letter one of the advisors the Council of Ministers sought said in his advice that he saw the letter. In breaking down the advices one would see that Kortmann agrees with Professor Van Rijn but he further states that the government does not have to resign, this advisor based his claim on a passage in article 39 of the constitution which according to him states that when a council of ministers get a motion of no confidence, they only resign when the parliament is dissolved.
However, the statements or passage Kortmann refers to cannot be found in article 39 of the country’s constitution unless there is another constitution existing that most people are not aware of.
In the advice given by Professor Van Rijn he stated that the government has the right to issue an LB even after receiving a motion of no confidence. According to the professor this is an inherent and independent right given by the constitution. He also states that the Governor of St. Maarten must sign the LB submitted by Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs. One of the things this professor did not touch on in his lengthy advice is when and if the Council of Ministers must resign.
The advice issued by Hirsch Ballin clearly states that the dissolution of Parliament is only allowed if it is supported by a majority in Parliament. When a Government receives a motion of no confidence they must resign and it is within the rights of the governor to ask them to remain in office until the majority decides whether or not to dissolve the parliament and call for new election or to form a government.
While we saw and heard of the four recent advices one of the advices everyone seems to forget is the one issued in 2012 by the Governor of Curacao during the Schotte stand-off. This advice was written by Ronald Koeijers and Gruning. In that advice it states that when a parliament wants to make it clear that a government must go home, the method that has to be used is a motion of no confidence, that advice further states that when a motion of no confidence is passed the Ministers must resign immediately, and if they are asked to stay on then their duty is to only handle pending matters. They do not have the authority to issue any new LB or enter into any long term agreements that would hinder the incoming government or the country’s budget.
One of the things that no one seems to be addressing, including the Governor of St. Maarten.
The Prime Minister of St. Maarten submitted an LB to dissolve the Parliament of St. Maarten and to call elections within three months to be exact on December 8th 2015. However, while this LB was submitted the leader of the United Peoples Party and their supporters have been contacting other Members of Parliament to form a government. Just last week Member of Parliament Sarah Wescot Williams who is also the leader of the Democratic Party admitted that she was contacted the day after the motion of no confidence was passed. SMN News learnt that the person that contacted Wescot Williams asked her “what is it she wants to join the UPP.” Another MP that was also contacted and met with the faction leader of the UPP is MP Maurice Lake who forms part of the new majority. SMN News also learnt that MP William Marlin was also contacted to see if he is willing to form a broad based government.
It is clear that this stand-off is aimed at buying time for the UPP in order for them to see if they could convince any of the eight Members of Parliament that formed the new majority to cross over back to them in order to remain in power.
Now that it is a known fact that the UPP is still seeking to get back a majority in order for them to remain in office, the question that arises is the reasons given by Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs for submitting the LB to dissolve the Parliament of St. Maarten. The Prime Minister said he wants to stop the ship jumping, or stop the carnival. If any of the eight MPs decides to go back to the UPP the question then would be what would Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs and Minister of Justice Dennis Richardson do, are they going to go to the Governor to withdraw the LB they submitted to dissolve the Parliament of St. Maarten? These are pertinent questions that have to be answered and the only person that can give those answers is the leader of the United Peoples Party since he is the captain steering the ship that has dropped its anchor since the motion of no confidence was passed on September 30th 2015.
It is clear that even if new elections is called the way the constitution is right now ship jumping will not stop. One of the things that must be done forthwith is ‘electoral reform’ and rectifying the incomplete constitution.
St. Maarten is at the crossroad it is clear that this change of government has affected the island tremendously as no one wants to invest in St. Maarten, stores and other businesses are closing their doors and moving to other islands, while Cuba will be getting all the cruise passengers that comes to St. Maarten.
Crime has escalated, young people are jobless. St. Maarten professionals abroad refuses to return to their homeland simply because of the instability and lack of guarantee of finding work.
The police over the past five years had to go back to the drawing board at least three times to change their year plan because of the change in government. Needless to say that that Ministry of Justice has no monies and yet they have so much to do to preserve the sanity of this country.