CPC contests Rueben Thompson’s explanation

POSTED: 07/15/14 2:56 PM

“Sidelining is insulting and a downright lie”

St. Maarten – Secretary Paul Dijkhoffz and treasurer Paul Henriquez are unhappy with the way the now former president of Citizens for Positive Change (CPC) Rueben Thompson has portrayed the process that resulted in the party’s decision not to take part in the August 29 elections. They want to set the record straight and at the same time, they have a message: CPC will not disappear, it will take on a role as an active participant in the public debate – but only after the elections are over.

With hindsight, both Dijkhoffz and Henriquez realize that they have underestimated the process the CPC had to go through. “How fast do you assemble a critical mass?” Dijkhoffz says at the end on our meeting.

The reason why the CPC decided to pull out of the elections is simple: prospective candidates got cold feet or second thoughts about contesting the elections. Dijkhoffz and Henriquez provided the names but asked Today not to publish them.

On Tuesday, July 8, at 10.03 a.m. one candidate pulled out. At 10.55 a second candidate did the same, while a third candidate was uncertain. Fifty minutes later, Dijkhoffz sent an email to members and candidates with the sober conclusion that there were now just two candidates left.

This is when Paul Henriquez formulated his motion that offered two options: take part in the 2014 elections, or withdraw from the contest, regroup and contest the next parliamentary elections. The day before, Monday, July 7, CPC had elected a 7-member board.

On Tuesday Henriquez’ motion was put to a vote, though Rueben Thompson was not present then – he was still in the Netherlands attending his brother’s graduation. The motion passed, with a preference of those in attendance for not contesting the elections. Says Dijkhoffz: “If the vote had gone the other way, the CPC would have gone ahead. If we had wanted to sideline Thompson, as his explanation suggests, we would have postponed that meeting.”

Dijkhoffz and Henriquez furthermore point out that CPC has only one board – not an executive board and a general board.

What happened with that motion on Tuesday morning? Dijkhoffz and Henriquez say that all present in that meeting were awaiting a formal response from president Thompson. But Thompson only sent a text message on Wednesday, at 1.58 p.m. saying that he supported the proposal to retract.

However, in his explanation that this newspaper published yesterday, Thompson says that “a significant part of the newly elected board and the majority of our membership” indicated a willingness to participate in the elections. Furthermore, Thompson wrote: “I agreed with these members.”

Last Thursday – a day before Postulation Day – CPC needed to inform the electorate about the party’s decision. A draft press release was circulated among Dijkhoffz, Henriquez and Thompson for review. “Thompson did so at 3.30 p.m. and he had two comments,” Dijkhoffz says, adding that the press release was adjusted accordingly.

Up to around 4 p.m. on Thursday the CPC still had not heard what Thompson’s position  was on the motion to retract – other than his text message from Wednesday. “At 5.30 p.m. on Thursday the CPC membership received official notification from the CPC president in the form of a resignation letter,” Dijkhoffz says. “It did not only pertain to his resignation as the CPC president but also as a member of CPC, which was met by all with great amazement.”

Dijkhoffz and Henriquez refute Thompson’s stance that it would have been impossible for the CPC to contest the elections without the support of the executive board members. Dijkhoffz and Henriquez would have stepped back as secretary and treasurer, but it would still have been possible to put replacements in place. “The power was in the hands of all seven board members and the membership present at the meeting.”

Most were waiting for Thompson’s formal response to the motion, Dijkhoffz and Henriquez say, and that reaction came 55 hours after it was presented. “There was in no way a deliberate attempt to sideline Thompson. The reasons for not contesting have been explained in the press release. To find out now that the executive board has acted in a dubious manner and deliberately sidelined Thompson is not only insulting but a downright lie.”

Dijkhoffz and Henriquez point to another inconsistency in Thompson’s explanation where he claims to have had two sleepless nights before he concluded that he had no other option than support the motion not to context the election. However, as stated before, Thompson sent a text message already on Wednesday indicating that he supported the motion.

The biggest question mark, Dijkhoffz and Henriquez place with Thompson’s claim that he contacted Frans Richardson of the United St. Maarten Party about CPC’s intention not to contest the elections. Thompson speaks in his explanation about his role as the former president of the CPC and about finding common ground after some intense discussions. The result is now public: Thompson is the number 4 candidate on the list of Richardson’s US-party.

Dijkhoffz and Henriquez question about this process speaks volumes: “And all this transpired after 5.30 p.m. on Thursday (the moment CPC members got Thompson’s resignation letter?)”

There is yet another bone of contention in Thompson’s explanation that Henriquez wants to correct: the assertion that he – Henriquez – withdrew his candidacy. “I never put myself forward as a candidate,” he says. “I was contemplating the idea, depending on the final list of candidates and on the process of how we got to that point.”

A last issue is the impression that the CPC was first and foremost Thompson’s party. In his explanation, he refers to himself as “the founding president, political leader and CPC’s intended primary candidate.” Henriquez and Dijkhoffz see this differently: “CPC was incorporated by three people based on the principles of equality and transparency. Legally one person has to be the president. It is however unfortunate that Mr. Thompson now attempts to make it seem that the party was somehow more his own than anybody else’s.”

In spite of the current drama, the CPC will not disappear, Dijkhoffz and Henriquez say. Last night there was a membership meeting about the organization’s future. One thing is certain. Given the fact that the CPC will not contest the elections, it will keep quiet until the elections are over. But the intention is to remain a constructive but critical force in the public debate in the years to come.

 

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