Government falls after all
By Hilbert Haar
GREAT BAY – The reign of the red white and blue coalition – National Alliance, United St. Maarten party and Democratic Party – will come to an end today when the new majority in Parliament will table a motion of no-confidence against the government led by NA-leader William Marlin.
DP-leader MP Sarah Wescot-Williams made the announcement during après conference at the Parliament building on Tuesday afternoon. “Too little, too late,” she said in response to our question why this government has to be sent packing while it has agreed with the conditions attached to financial aid from the Netherlands for the reconstruction of St. Maarten.
“Clearly,” the DP-leader said, “Prime Minister Marlin changed his position in an attempt to save his government once he understood that we have a majority of eight.”
Wescot-Williams said that the advice from the Council of Advice that seemingly inspired the Prime Minister to agree to the Dutch conditions “at the eleventh hour” is dated October 23 and that Marlin never shared the information from this advice with the coalition.
Only when Wescot-Williams, in an inspired speech in Parliament last Friday, made clear that she would leave the coalition if there was no room for her opinion – that St. Maarten should not close the door on talks with the Kingdom – the Prime Minister moved.
Wescot-Williams said that after she had made her position clear, she had gone out to find support across party lines. She found that support from United St. Maarten party MP Chanel Brownbill and from the opposition United People’s party (UP).
Wescot-Williams said that the government intended to make the Integrity Chamber a High Council of State. Not only does this require an amendment to the constitution, it would also mean that citizens lose the right to appeal decisions made by the Integrity Chamber.
“Up to last Friday there was not a single indication that the Prime Minister had changed his position, while the advice from the Council of Advice about the Integrity Chamber dates back to October 23,” Wescot-Williams said. “Why did he not communicate this? Not a word.”
Wescot-Williams said that she had started looking for “a coalition of the willing.” On Sunday evening, she found an agreement with the UP and with MP Chanel Brownbill.
“MP Brownbill has not declared himself independent,” Wescot-Williams said. “He will seek alignment with the faction of the Democratic Party.”
Late on Monday night the coalition of eight – the UP-faction, the DP-faction and MP Brownbill - sent a letter to the Governor, the Parliament and the Council of Ministers declaring that they are willing to form a new government with the objective of breaking the deadlock with the Kingdom.
The Parliament will meet this afternoon at 2 p.m. to seal the deal.
Observers expect that Prime Minister Marlin will counter a motion of no confidence against his government with a decision to dissolve the Parliament and call for new elections. They expect however, that Marlin will suffer a painful defeat at the polls.
Wescot-Williams opposes such a move, saying that the focus should not be on elections but on what people are going through in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
DP-leader MP Sarah Wescot-Williams during Tuesday’s press conference. Photo Hilbert Haar