PHILIPSBURG – The Party for Progress (PFP) raised serious concerns about the continued disregard for the election and campaign guidelines issued by the Minister of Justice on Sint Maarten. This issue not only questions the integrity of the electoral process but also poses safety risks.
“People have reached out to us, including candidates on other parties, regarding the placement of billboards and flags too close to or even in the roundabouts,” PFP Deputy Leader Marvio Cooks states. “The guidelines were verbally communicated to party representatives on November 13th, and published a couple days before postulation day. However, we see that legacy and even new parties have chosen to disregard the rule of not placing campaign material in the immediate area of the roundabouts.”
The published ministerial regulation specifies that materials can only be placed 10 meters before any entry point into a roundabout. This is done for safety reasons, as especially larger posters or moving items such as flags can cause a distraction for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.
“If you cannot follow simple election guidelines, which is a small thing, how can people trust you to do the big things, right?” PFP Party Leader Melissa Gumbs stated. “The #2 candidate on the DP slate, the #1 and 2 candidates on the UPP slate, and the #9 candidate on the URSM slate should all know better. All candidates have political history and knowledge, and even after warnings were given in the specially created KPSM/Party Reps election chat, we still saw even more posters being added inside roundabouts.”
Gumbs and Cooks call on candidates to rectify their illegally placed billboards with haste.
“It would not surprise me if party board reps had communicated the order from KPSM to remove the billboards, but of course, you’d have to be operating as an actual team to do things that are, in essence, teamwork,” Gumbs concluded.
David Salomon, PFP’s number 10 candidate was quoted saying “We cannot allow the desire to win at any cost to overshadow the need for safety and fairness in our elections. The people of Sint Maarten deserve leaders who demonstrate respect for the law and the well-being of the community.”
This is not the first time PFP has raised questions about this issue. In fact, prior to Postulation Day, they had already sounded the alarm that billboards were being placed in the dead of night, providing an unfair advantage to those parties while the ones observing the rules were left to wonder what was going on.
“This win-at-any-cost mentality is not something that we condone. Such tactics are not only unfair competition but also jeopardize the safety and integrity of our democratic processes. We urge KPSM, the Ministry of Justice and the public to be aware of and take a stand against such manipulative practices.”