Damage control: National Alliance installs new interim presidentPOSTED: 01/28/14 12:08 PM
St. Maarten – The National Alliance (NA) held a press conference at the Holland House hotel yesterday afternoon in what appeared to be damage control and to ease the concerns of its voter base. The party has suffered an exodus of former candidates recently, with Dr. Lloyd Richardson being the latest to leave the beleaguered party, joining Theo Heyliger’s UP party for the next elections. Others, like Member of Parliament Frans Richardson, have moved on to form their own party, the United St. Maarten (US) party, while past party stalwart Lenny Priest also launched his own, the One St. Maarten People Party (OSPP).
“This press briefing has been called by the National Alliance for several reasons,” National Alliance leader and Member of Parliament William Marlin said. “One of them to introduce someone who is no stranger to the St. Maarten, and definitely no stranger to the political arena, Mr. Cedric James.” He is the brother of the late Vance James Jr., who helped found the St. Maarten Patriotic Movement (SPM) in the late 70s, and then the St. Maarten Patriotic Alliance (SPA) in the early 90s.
Marlin said James had been asked by the party to take on the interim presidency “to help with the revamping of the party structure.”
“We are also here to pass on to our general membership and to the people of St. Maarten one of our upcoming events which will be on Sunday upcoming,” Marlin explained. He also addressed what everyone was thinking, which was the recent current developments within his party and how the NA would handle it.
James said, “It was a great honor to be asked by the party to take on the task of restructuring the National Alliance. There has been a lot of talk over the past weeks with persons leaving the party given that the reason was a lack of structure within the party,” James said, and that he gladly accepted the task.
James lamented that those who left the party didn’t try at first to work from within it, saying that there “is a constitution, there is a structure in place.” He also said it was too easy for people to point fingers and attack rather than to work along, “from within.”
He said, “Without going into detail,” that there was a need for changes within the party structure but they hadn’t occurred. “There is a need for reestablishing and reasserting ourselves.”
Marlin announced that the Sunday event is to regroup and rejuvenate the party faithful. And it will be held at the Westin hotel from 3 to 7pm. Invitations, he said, would be sent out.
Marlin then introduced the remaining faithful party members, including former Minister Sylveria Jacobs, MP Louie Laveist, MP Hyacinth Richardson, MP George Pantophlet, and former Minister Roland Tuitt among others.
Marlin recalled his first election in 1979. “I was young, educated, I was popular among the St. Maarten people,” but he recalled that if you didn’t know to campaign properly it ended in disaster. “I ended up getting 81 votes,” he said. “But I never walked away. I hung in there.” Marlin recalled that since being elected to the Island Council he has always been elected afterward, advising his young party members to not give up.
“Of course we cannot leave here without questions being asked about the latest political developments,” Marlin said, in reference to the string of candidates that have left the party recently. He said he stands by past statements that the “National Alliance is the strongest party on St. Maarten. Has the strongest base and will continue to be just that.” He remained confident and, in defiance of the fact that his largest vote getters left the party, including other members, that the party would capture the majority of seats in the upcoming elections.
He said that the impression that the party “is imploding, is falling apart” has been “deliberately created by some. The National Alliance vessel, the National Alliance ship is safely anchored in the harbor, preparing for the upcoming elections and preparing to sail out in the open political waters and the rough seas ahead of us, but confident we will come out victorious,” Marlin emphasized. “Our agenda is not a hidden agenda.”
The Alliance leader said he was open to work with everyone, and that the rainbow of colors on the NA logo represents the diversity of St. Maarten and that you were welcome within the party. “And we work together, always for St. Maarten.”