Louis Mussington reacts as the Council unanimously votes for him to be President. Annick Pétrus and Alain Richardson look on.
MARIGOT--Louis Mussington (61) was confirmed as the new President of the Territorial Council at a formal installation ceremony of the new council on Sunday as his Rassemblement Saint-Martinois (RSM) Alternative party is set to govern the Collectivité of St. Martin for the next five years.
RSM, which had integrated members of Valerie Damaseau’s Alternative party, was the clear winner of the Territorial Council second round on Sunday, March 27, collecting 4,742 votes (49.06 per cent of votes cast).
Sunday’s ceremony held outside Hôtel de la Collectivité in a marquee saw the new 23-member Territorial Council unanimously vote in favour of Louis Mussington to be president during an election conducted by Bernadette Davis and Steven Cocks, respectively the oldest and youngest council members. There were no other candidates for president.
Next was the lengthy process of voting for the four vice-presidents of the Executive Council, preceded by some earnest negotiations.
Because a consensus was not reached on the first list proposing candidates for the four vice-presidents (a second list was proposed by Daniel Gibbs) a delay of one more hour had to be observed by law.
The two lists, Alain Richardson’s and Daniel Gibbs’, were put to the council’s vote. The result turned in favour of Alain Richardson’s list, by 18 votes to five. Council members then proceeded to cast their votes for each of the four nominated vice-presidents on Alain Richardson’s list.
Alain Richardson was voted First Vice-President (18 votes to five blank votes), Frantz Gumbs is Second Vice-President (18 votes to five blank), Dominique Democritie Louisy is Third Vice-President, and Michel Petit is Fourth Vice-President (17 votes to six blank).
The seven-member Executive Council is therefore composed of Louis Mussington (President), Alain Richardson, Frantz Gumbs, Dominique Democritie Louisy, Michel Petit and members Martine Beldor and Daniel Gibbs.
It should be noted that Annick Pétrus, originally number two on the RSM list, is still the Senator for St. Martin and St. Barths and as such was not eligible for a Vice-President position, but remains a member of the majority party. Alain Richardson and Frantz Gumbs are both former Presidents of the Collectivité.
“I was on the slow burner for quite a while, but then I got onto full gas,” joked Richardson on his return to the political arena.
The first to congratulate Louis Mussington was his brother Leo Mussington, before the sashes of office were conferred onto the President and four Vice-Presidents.
“I’m declaring with great pride and much enthusiasm that you are all standing on the right side of history,” Mussington began in his speech, before acknowledging his family’s support. He described his youth growing up in St. James and the values instilled into him by his parents, particularly his mother’s insistence on educating her children.
“I would like to suggest the young parents of today properly educate their children instead of letting televisions do that for them,” he said.
He thanked the population for realising that a fundamental change in the political landscape was necessary.
“We have a reliable and capable team of experienced and dedicated men and women, full of energy and enthusiasm, motivated by a desire to rebuild this country in the interests of all the people, not just a few, and I assure this will not happen on our watch,” he said.
“I congratulate and thank the RSM Alternative team. We embraced very early on that a one-man show cannot work in this country. Our motto is ‘strong minds sharing one vision’.”
Among RSM Alternative’s objectives, Mussington pledged that re-organisation of the Collectivité’s administrative services is a high priority as well as giving young St. Martiners equal opportunity to excel in their areas of expertise. He also pledged to tackle poverty, improve living standards, and reduce high unemployment and social tension.
Developing quality education and signing an agreement with the French Government towards full bilingual school programmes are also a firm commitment. He proposes to double scholarship funds for students studying abroad and to create a nursing institution to increase the number of young medical professionals in St. Martin.
Dutch-side dignitaries in attendance for the ceremony included Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs; Chairperson of Parliament Grisha Heyliger-Marten; Acting Lieutenant Governor Reynold Groeneveldt; former Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs; Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication Roger Lawrence (TEATT); Minister of Public Housing, Spatial planning, Environment and Infrastructure Egbert Doran; Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion; Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (ECYS) Rodolphe Samuel; and Minister of Justice Anna Richardson.
The government of Anguilla was represented by Premier Ellis Lorenzo Webster and Speaker of the House of Assembly Barbara Webster-Bourne.