Governor has to explain why he allowed PM to hijack democracy

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PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — The board of the United People (UP) party on Tuesday said that by stating that “there can be no further discussion” on whether snap elections will be on September 26, His Excellency Governor Eugene Holiday is creating the impression that he is complicit in Prime Minister William Marlin’s successful hijacking of democracy. “The people of St. Maarten have had their fundamental rights violated and the constitution has been abused, both actions resulting in dangerous precedents being set by the Prime Minister and apparently rubber-stamped by the Governor,” the board said.

The board pointed out that the Governor of St. Maarten went out of his way to seek advice from three judges prior to signing the national decree of the Marcel Gumbs cabinet, delaying his decisions until said advice was provided. When finally he signed the decree the advice of the judges was used as part and parcel of his decision making process. The advice also clearly said that once signed and elections called, the decision cannot be changed. To state that there will be no further discussion is a slap to the people of St. Maarten who deserve a proper explanation.

The national decree of October 29, 2015 to dissolve Parliament and call snap elections by the Marcel Gumbs cabinet, supported by the UP/De Weever/Marlin-Romeo, was set to take effect on December 15. Now, Governor Eugene Holiday, who signed that same decree, signed another decree on December 14 by the National Alliance led coalition, cancelling the previous decree and setting election for September 26, 2016. This new decree, the Governor says, goes into effect immediately. So the first had to wait 6 weeks before going into effect and this one gets the immediate treatment? If, on the other hand, the argument is used that this new decree “regulates” and cancels out the previous, how can you regulate and cancel a decree that didn’t go into effect? And why would it go into effect immediately? What is the legal basis for this new decree?

The Governor needs to explain to the people of St. Maarten what his signature is worth on the first decree. How does one cancel out the other which has already been signed and preparations for the elections were underway. How does the Governor reconcile his decision with the advice given to him by the three judges he approached? How does the governor expect the people of St. Maarten to simply accept “there can be no further discussion” and move on. That statement betrays the reputation of the governor.

“It is evident that the new Prime Minister has successfully hijacked democracy by showcasing the people do not have a say anymore,” remarked the United People’s Party (UP) board in a press release on Tuesday. “The preparations for election and the various advises on the desk of the Prime Minister William Marlin apparently got stuck there with no desire by him to ensure they reached further,” the UP board added. “PM Marlin is blocking advises and the other preparations necessary to host a fair election which would allow the people of our country to express how they feel.”

The UP Board questioned the legality of the new national decree issued by the Honorable Governor in regards to hosting elections on September 26th, 2016. “At this point we have to wonder if this was some sort of trade-off. Was a second term of the governorship in the balance? We hope not as our country’s constitution should be upheld and the people should be given the opportunity to express how they truly feel by the power of the ballot,” the UP Board said.

The board added that one constant remains: A different measuring stick is applied to the UP party and/or UP supported governments. “We see it with national decrees and we see it with campaign and party regulations. The Electoral Council has published that the UP is the only party that was in accordance with regulations as laid down by law, yet we have not heard what happened to those parties, for example, whose finances were not in order. Will fines be applied? What are the consequences of not adhering to these regulations? Had it been the UP, the story would have been very different. A decree supported by the UP was delayed, questioned and advice from judges was sought. But a decree by the National Alliance goes into effect immediately? The Governor has to answer to the people and explain.”