Once again

Once again

St. Maarten finds itself in yet another political crisis following the first government to serve its full term since 10-10-10, although the former National Alliance (NA)/ United People’s (UP) party coalition needed help from two independent parliamentarians to stay in the saddle near the end. The recently-sworn-in Mercelina I Cabinet of United Resilient St. Maarten Movement (URSM), the Democratic Party (DP), Party for Progress (PFP and Nation Opportunity Wealth (NOW) – each with two seats – appears to have lost majority backing in the legislature in just two weeks and three days.

NOW-faction member Kevin Maingrette declared in a press release that he was withdrawing support from the current “two-by-four” government to join a “more stable” coalition with NA (four seats) and UP (three). A portfolio division giving him two ministers has reportedly already been agreed.

To what extent that happens remains to be seen, because the Council of Ministers might be working on a National Decree to dissolve Parliament and call snap elections within three months. This option in the Constitution to prevent a governing impasse has been used in similar cases both here and in Curaçao.

While some scholars believe it is not in the “sprit of the law” for a government having lost confidence of the legislative majority to turn around and send home the highest democratic body in the land, no such reservation on applying the relevant article exists.

However, it may be possible for a newly-formed majority to request the installation of an interim cabinet pending the early vote should they have no trust at all in the outgoing one and want its ministers immediately dismissed. The Jacobs I Cabinet, for example, was such an interim government in early 2019.

During Monday’s meeting in which the credentials of incoming Members of Parliament (MPs) Richinel Brug (URSM) and Viren Vinod Kotai (DP) were approved with help of the – then still – NA/UP opposition in forming a quorum, UP-faction member Francisco DeLacroes submitted a motion of no-confidence against three of the present five ministers, namely Prime Minister Luc Mercelina (URSM), Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Grisha Heyliger-Marten (DP) and Minister of Health, Social Development and Labour VSA as well as acting Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI Veronica Jansen-Webster (URSM). He also requested their immediate dismissal.

President of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams (DP) said the motion was not correctly submitted in her opinion and then adjourned the meeting. Governor Ajamu Baly will now probably have to deal with these latest political developments.

That is rather poignant, because of his refusal to sign draft national decrees appointing NOW-leader Christophe Emmanuel and former PFP parliamentarian Raeyhon Peters as ministers as well as the subsequent back-and-forth with ex-“formateur” Mercelina over it. Questions remain, but – as it looks now – people should be prepared for a return to the polls this summer.

The Daily Herald

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