Coalition leaders deny row over Jules James

POSTED: 02/17/12 12:32 PM

St. Maarten – Leader of the Democratic Party Sarah Wescot-Williams and leader of the United People’s Party Theo Heyliger confirmed Wednesday that members of parliament from their respective parties had participated in weekend discussions on motions that were tabled by the National Alliance faction on Monday. Both have denied though that the talks were aimed at forming a new coalition that excluded one or the other party.

“Over the weekend I know a lot of discussion took place, but none had to do with discord in the coalition. What you did have was members of parliament seeking a basis for across party line support of motions that would have been presented. That to me is a logical process. Politically if I had been in the shoes of some of the others that wanted to initiate further talks, I too would have tried that, but the point was not that and clearly there was no agreement on the motions,” Wescot-Williams said at Wednesday’s Council of Ministers press briefing.

Later Heyliger would add, “I had no talks with any other political leader than other with the leader of the Democratic Party of St. Maarten. So I had no talks with any member of the opposition. In fact I can’t remember the last time that I did other than being questioned in parliament. That was the last time I think I answered anything. So, as party leader of the United People’s Party, we had no official talks outside of the coalition.”

He also said, “I’ve seen and I’ve asked the members of parliament, at least the ones that are actually part of the UP faction. They have indicated they were approached to look at a motion and to see how they can support the motion, which is a normal case I think in many of the motions I’ve seen, or listened to on radio or read in the newspapers, that often times all the political parties try to get together, especially as a parliament and try to see and focus in one direction. So I know that there were discussions about seeing if we could support the motions.”

Constitution

Wescot-Williams, who is also St. Maarten’s prime minister, also used Wednesday’s press briefing to reject the premise that the constitution is not detailed enough. In fact she’s argued it should not be too detailed because the constitution is the foundation on which all other laws are built.

“What has to happen is where these articles need elaboration and interpretation, it behooves the respective organs – parliament of government to do exactly that. Many areas of our constitution, because it is a foundation, from which you build, states that the premise of the constitution – free and fair elections – will be worked out by law, specifically meaning that a law now needs to establish how it will be put in practice, how it will be implemented,” Wescot-Williams said.

The prime minister does see a clash though in the provisions on an MP not participating in voting on a matter that concerns them, a family member to the second degree or for which they act as representative and the rules of order of the parliament.

“Clearly there is something – a procedural process that needs to be worked out there. And I think, as far as I’m concerned this process of St. Maarten – the rules of order for parliament, even the rules of order of the Council of Ministers vis a vis the constitution is a work in progress and should be considered as such and when you have an issue where members of parliament and government can’t agree to what it is, it should be worked out to the better understanding of all concerned,” the prime minister said.

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