Aruba’s PM Mike Eman on hunger strike over budget row

POSTED: 07/13/14 9:32 PM

“Until the budget is signed or until I am no longer there”

ORANJESTAD – Aruba’s Prime Minister Mike Eman goes on hunger strike over the conflict with Governor Fredis Refunjol and the Kingdom Council of Ministers about the 2014 budget. “I have to show my solidarity,” Eman said in an interview with Caribisch Netwerk reporter Ariën Rasmijn yesterday. “If there is no food for Aruba, then there is also no food for the prime Minister of Aruba. I will keep this up until the budget has been signed or until I am no longer there.”

The prime minister’s dramatic statement follows on a decision by the Kingdom Council of Ministers to withhold his approval for the 2014 budget during an independent investigation into the budget that is underway at his instigation. Governor Refunjol wants to research the substantiation, the sustainability and the effect of the budget on subsequent years.

The Kingdom Council of Minister said in a brief statement yesterday that Aruba’s government finances remain “worrisome.” The investigation the governor has ordered has to show whether the process towards sustainable government finances the International Monetary Fund advised has started.

“We are in a situation whereby the budget of Aruba is taken hostage, first by the governor, and now by the Kingdom Council of Ministers,” Eman said, adding that the basis for these actions is unlawful. “All important advices have said that this is unlawful and that this cannot happen. The consequence is that, every day that this continues, ut becomes more complicate to take care of our people and our children.”

Eman said that Aruba’s autonomy and its budget-freedom are fundamental. “We cannot negotiate about that. We have tried for months to convince the Dutch government that we are open for suggestions, but that we cannot touch Aruba’s autonomy and budget-freedom. Arubans have given their lives for these rights.”

“In line with what Arubans before me have done – giving their life for our status aparte – I stand here today to say that I make my life and my health available for the fight against the injustice that is being done to Aruba.”

Eman said that the government has created a slid island with strong economic growth. “It is better than in any other part of the kingdom. Aruba has a lower unemployment than the Netherlands and Curacao. We have a larger economy, a better tourist industry. Aruba is doing things right.”

Asked whether the current conflict over the budget could speed up Aruba’s road to independence, Eman remained cautious. “An important constitutional moment is now the refusal to execute illegal decisions and to put our lives at stake for it. Internationally we will have to establish a regulation to settle disputes because the random way the Netherlands is reading and executing the Kingdom Charter now without even involving the Council of State makes clear that the it is difficult to sustain the kingdom this way.”

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