ST. EUSTATIUS--Island Councilman Clyde van Putten made several allegations against Government Commissioner Alida Francis last week during an interview on PJD2 Radio in St. Maarten. According to the member of the Progressive Labour Party (PLP), Francis would be campaigning for the Democratic Party (DP) Statia.
In a reaction, Francis refuted Van Putten’s suggestion that she would have brought the office of Government Commissioner into disrepute.
“As government commissioner I have done everything possible to maintain the dignity of the office, sometimes even in the face of unfair personal attacks. I have steered clear of politics and respected the position of government commissioner. I have remained above the fray, respected my office, and maintained its neutrality,” Francis said in a statement on Thursday.
“However, as a proud Statian who cherishes both the freedoms and family atmosphere this island provides, I will not put a pause on my friendships or family relationships because of politics, not even during an election campaign. I will not refrain from visiting my family and friends, and I will not refrain from speaking with people, even if they are candidates. I will not refrain from being me. In short, I will not put my democracy on pause.”
Francis called on Van Putten to retract his allegations made in the run-up to the March 15 Island Council election.
“I recognise that emotions can sometimes run high during an election campaign, but this time Mr. van Putten has gone too far. He made a serious allegation in a personal attack which is as hurtful as it is meaningless and baseless.
“As leaders of our close-knit community, we all have a responsibility to build, not break down, to develop our island and its people, not destroy, to be level-headed, not loose with our language. I encourage Mr. van Putten to do the right thing: retract the statement and apologise,” she said.
“He contends that he has proof that I have acted inappropriately. I challenge the honourable gentleman to take this evidence to the prosecutor. He has a duty to.”
Van Putten said he refuses to retract his statements because what he said was according to fact, as he has proof that these allegations took place.
“It is sad to see that the focal point of this election is rapidly shifting from what the respective parties will do for the island to now a battle between the honourable Clyde van Putten and the Honourable Alida Francis,” PLP leader Rechelline Leerdam said. “This election is about Statia. There are over 3,000 people on this beautiful island, and not just two.”
Her advice to Francis and Van Putten is to put the matter to rest, or let it be handled in a court of law. “Let us put our focus back to our main priority, which is and should always be Statia,” said Leerdam.