Cabinet Wescot-Williams III sworn in

POSTED: 06/17/13 11:35 AM

St. Maarten – There was an almost eerie silence outside the office of Governor drs. Eugène Holiday yesterday afternoon. Inside, the governor was occupied with the swearing in of six ministers of the Wescot-Williams III cabinet. Outside, photographers and journalists lingered, wondering where the excitement about the installation of a new government had gone.

Things almost turned interesting after the ceremony had ended and the first guests filtered out into the sunshine. Among them was UP-leader Theo Heyliger. Politically sidelined but in good spirits, he let himself be quizzed about the seventh wheel on the wagon: the missing Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs. A candidate for that position has to be named by independent MP Romain Laville. Heyliger said he had seen a name, but when he was prodded further, he offered “Richardson” – a name as common in St. Maarten as Smith is in the United States.

Earlier in the day, this newspaper learned from DP faction leader Roy Marlin that no candidate had been presented yet for vetting, but based on Heyliger’s information, this may have changed later yesterday afternoon.

The six ministers and Minister Plenipotentiary Mathias Voges appeared after the ceremony on the steps of the office for the traditional group photo with Governor Holiday.

The members of the new cabinet are: Sarah Wescot-Williams (Prime Minister, General Affairs), Dennis Richardson (Justice), Patricia Lourens-Philip (Education, Culture, Youth and Sports), Martin Hassink (Finance), Maurice Lake (Public Housing, Urban Planning, Environment and Infrastructure) and Van Hugh Cornelius de Weever (Public Health, Social Affairs and Labor). Mathias Voges was reappointed as Minister Plenipotentiary.

After the photo shoot, the gathering moved to the A.C. Wathey legislative hall in the government administration building for a constituting meeting. On this location, there was also limited enthusiasm in the air. Journalists were banned from sitting in the public tribune where just fifteen seats were occupied while the rest remained empty. Among the audience were Heyliger, Andy Wescot and Laville, seated right next to Reynold Groeneveldt who functions as Acting Governor when the governor is off-island.

The freshly reappointed Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams briefly explained that the meeting was “a constituting meeting of the members of the Council of Ministers that have just been installed” before handing the microphone to Governor Holiday.

The governor also kept it brief, saying that he is looking forward to cooperating with the Council of Ministers in the framework of the government. “A great responsibility rests on you to serve the people of St. Maarten and to meet the ideal of all St. Maarteners,” the governor said with a reference to the pre-amble of the constitution.

That pre-amble contains among others a commitment “to work with each other, with our partners in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, with our neighbors in French Saint Martin and with all peoples of the world on the basis of freedom, equality, peaceful coexistence, and international solidarity.”

“I wish you much success as you take on this critical task,” the governor concluded.

The last part of the open meeting’s session consisted of the signing of the national decree that regulates the substitution of the ministers of the previous government with those of the new cabinet. All ministers and the minister plenipotentiary signed the decree, whereby it became apparent that Maurice Lake, the new minister of Public Housing, Urban Planning, Environment and Infrastructure is the only left-handed member of the cabinet.

 

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