Chair aborts meeting within sixty seconds: New majority calls action MP De Weever illegalPOSTED: 10/15/15 3:37 PM
St. Maarten – Acting as the second vice president of Parliament, independent MP Cornelius de Weever wrong-footed parliament yesterday morning by opening and closing a meeting designed to appoint a new chair within sixty seconds after which he “ran out of the hall,” according to Democratic Party MP Sarah Wescot-Williams.
De Weever called on article 37 of the rules of order, after remarking that the cabinet had submitted a national decree to dissolve parliament. “I hereby close this meeting,” he said.
Article 27 gives the chair of parliament the option to close a meeting “if he considers this desirable for the course of the proceedings or to maintain the order.”
In a press conference after what was probably the shortest parliament meeting in the country’s five-year history, Wescot-Williams labeled De Weever’s action as “illegal.”
She referred to a meeting of a couple of weeks ago that De Weever refused to chair because he had made his position available, something that the president or parliament, Dr. Lloyd Richardson and first vice-chair Leona Marlin-Romeo have also done.
“Now the second vice chair refers wrongfully to a draft ordinance to dissolve the parliament. There is no such draft ordinance,” Wescot-Williams said.
She lamented that De Weever’s action “hinders the functioning of parliament. He is shifting the problem with the government to the parliament. That is abuse of power.”
National Alliance faction leader William Marlin described the situation as “unfortunate,” adding that the now stepped down chair Dr. Lloyd Richardson had indicated that he would cooperate with the meeting and that he did not want to hold up the proceedings.
“We did not want to create an embarrassing situation,” Marlin said. “We said that we would support a vote to let Dr. Lloyd Richardson represent the parliament as its president, even though he stepped down.”
Richardson left midday to meeting abroad where he will represent the parliament.
Marlin noted that the cabinet “obstructs the process of arriving at a new government. The prime minister has made clear that he will not get out of that chair. That is a reckless statement. His actions indicate that he does not care about the constitution.”
Marlin said that Marcel Gumbs had become prime minister “due to two ship jumpers,” namely, Cornelius de Weever and Leona Marlin-Romeo.
The NA-leader suspects darker motives for the cabinet’s refusal to make its positions available. “They are buying time to sign off on certain projects. One of them is the expansion of the prison, a project of 13 million that they want to give to a contractor without a public bid.”
Marlin furthermore mentioned the conversion of Gebe generators to LNG and the waste-to-energy plant. “Some close to government will benefit from those projects,” he said.
“We have a rogue cabinet that is holding the country hostage,” Marlin continued. “The ministers are trampling the constitution. The people are sick and tired of this government that has done absolutely nothing so far. And the rules are clear: if you get a vote of no confidence, you have to leave.”
Marlin and Wescot-Williams said that they have requested an urgent meeting to debate what happened yesterday morning. According to Marlin, this meeting should take place by next Monday.
Marlin also pointed out that the amendment to the 2015 budget has to be approved before the end of the month, based on the instruction from the Kingdom Council of Ministers.
“This is another stalemate. The game playing has started,” Frans Richardson (United St. Maarten party) noted. “The constitution is used and abused. Constitution Day has not been commemorated as it should have been.
Richardson said that “this behavior cannot continue” and that the prime minister and the vice prime minister should both know better.”
Wescot-Williams: “This is only a stay of execution. The basis for the government to call for the dissolution of parliament – to prevent ship jumping – is erroneous, because they will never be able to amend all the laws before the elections.”
Earlier, vice president of parliament Leona Marlin-Romeo made her positon available. “There is a new majority in parliament and therefore, the appointment of a new chairmanship must transpire,” she said in a brief press statement.
President Dr. Lloyd Richardson was a bit more elaborate in his motivation for vacating his position.
“Given the present and still ongoing political developments, I have made my seat available to whomever the parliament sees fit to assume the post. The seat of president of parliament was not an aspiration of mine. Nonetheless my willingness to serve where my country’s need of me was the greatest has been and continues to be my passion.”
Richardson’s statement also contained a warning: “I say to all primarily responsible that our people, our collective reputation, our country’s stability and future are riding perilously on the outcome of these talks. I want to rest on your conscience the full weight of your behavior and your decisions. Think about our infant nation first and act with sober maturity and not from a position of personal gain. This way we can emerge with a stronger parliament, council of ministers, taller as politicians, resulting eventually in a more peaceful, wiser and more prosperous nation for all our people.”