Departure faction-leader Laville key to political shift: Surprise calypso-coup pushes Heyliger’s UP in opposition

POSTED: 05/2/12 12:12 PM

St. Maarten –Vice Prime Minister Theo Heyliger’s United People’s will soon be the lone opposition faction  in the parliament, after faction-leader Romain Laville tendered his resignation to join forces with independent MPs Frans Richardson and Patrick Illidge.

The three are about to form a new government with the National Alliance and with the Democratic Party, that stepped out of the coalition after Laville’s departure from the UP. “I do not want to tell full story yet,” Laville told this newspaper yesterday afternoon. He did confirm however that the Democratic Party had joined the new majority. “There will be no need for new elections,” Laville said.

Last night National Alliance leader William Marlin issued a press release that confirms that Sarah Wescot-Williams will stay on as Prime Minister and that Cornelius de Weever will remain Minister of Public Health, Labor and Social Affairs. The National Alliance gets the ministry of Vromi and the post of Vice Prime Minister, and the ministries of finance and education. The NA will also appoint the deputy minister plenipotentiary and the chairman of parliament. The DP gets the vice minister plenipotentiary and the second vice chair of parliament.

Patrick Illidge will replace Roland Duncan as Minister of Justice, while Frans Richardson and Romain Laville will jointly replace UP-chairman Franklin Meyers at the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Laville will also become the deputy chair of parliament.

On Monday, MPs Laville, Illidge, Roy Marlin and Leroy de Weever sent a letter to Prime Minister Wescot-Williams announcing they withdraw their support for the UP/DP-government. Another letter signed by the four MPs plus independent Frans Richardson and William Marlin on behalf of the National Alliance to Governor drs. Eugene Holiday states that they are prepared to form a new government as soon as possible “and give that government their support for the remainder of the governing period 2010-2014.”

“We also request you to ensure that the present caretaker government does not sign off on any decisions with major financial, governmental and political consequences,” the letter to the governor states.

The political revolt will most likely go down in history as the Calypso-coup, because Laville, Richardson and Illidge appeared on stage at the Carnival Village on Friday night towards the end of the calypso competition to announce their political pact.

The timing of the announcement seems to have been carefully planned. The celebration of Carnival and the Queen’s birthday followed by the Labor Day holiday gave the politicians a four-day window to work with, without interference from the local print media.

The new majority will hold ten seats in the fifteen-seat parliament: five for the National Alliance (William Marlin, George Pantophlet, Louie Laveist, Hyacinth Richardson and Lloyd Richardson), two for the Democratic Party (Leroy de Weever and Roy Marlin), and the three independents Patrick Illidge, Frans Richardson and Romain Laville.

The United People’s party will be left with the remaining five seats (currently held by: Gracita Arrindell, Jules James, Sylvia Meyers, Ruth Douglas and Johan Leonard), but it is likely one of the sitting parliamentarians will have to make place for ousted members of the current cabinet. Vice Prime Minister Theo Heyliger and Education, Sport and Culture Minister Rhoda Arrindell are the only two UP-ministers who actually won votes in the September 2010-elections. Heyliger won 2,912 votes, Arrindell just 120. Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto, Justice Minister Roland Duncan and Economic Affairs Minister Franklin Meyers were appointed. With the departure of Laville, one seat falls free for Heyliger. Whether Arrindell will be able to claim a seat in parliament at the expense of either Johan Leonard or Ruth Douglas was unclear yesterday.

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