Gracita Arrindell succeeds Rodolphe Samuel as president of St. Maarten parliament – Parliament bickers over procedures – again

POSTED: 06/25/13 12:33 PM

St. Maarten – What should have been a formality with a festive touch became a drag when the parliament in its first meeting after the Wescot-Williams III cabinet took office got lost in procedural bickering that ended with three members of the opposition National Alliance leaving in a huff. After NA-MP Dr. Lloyd Richardson was excused because he had to attend a meeting with Public Health Minister De Weever, only the members of what turned out to be a coalition of nine remained for a unanimous vote to elect Drs. Gracita Arrindell as the parliament’s president.

Members of the National Alliance hammered on the rules of order, pointing out that the meeting that MPs Sylvia Meyers, Romain Laville and Roy Marlin requested the meeting on June 5. Normally, the meeting ought to take place within a fortnight after the request.

Former President of Parliament Drs. Rodolphe Samuel who was ousted via a motion of no-confidence in May before he reluctantly submitted his resignation, and other members of the NA attempted to prevent the meeting from continuing by pointing to article 89 of the rules of order, even after the three MPs that requested the meeting had stated that they had no problem with the meetings’ timing.

Article 89 states that the parliament “is able at all times to diverge from the rules of order if none of the members opposes this and if the divergence does not violate the Kingdom Charter, the State Regulation or any other legal regulation.”

The opposition grabbed this article and objected in an attempt to frustrate the meeting and to delay the appointment of a new president. Vice President Romain Laville, who chaired the meeting, decided after a brief recess, to overrule the argument and to continue with the meeting.

That is when NA-MPs George Pantophlet, Hyacinth Richardson and Rodolphe Samuel left the meeting without any explanation for their departure. MP Dr. Lloyd Richardson stayed in his seat, only to explain to the chair that he had to attend a meeting with Minister de Weever. He was properly excused.

It soon appeared that Independent MP Patrick Illidge has joined the ranks of the new majority. DP-MP Leroy de Weever spoke without further ado about “the coalition of nine” whereas the governing accord that resulted in the Wescot-Williams III cabinet had the support of just eight MPs – five from the UP, two from the DP and Independent MP Laville.

MP De Weever announced that in a future meeting he wishes to debate the statement made by Governor Holiday about the formation process and about the role of the governor. “The true responsibility lies with the parliament,” he said. “It is important for people to understand that.”

De Weever also pointed out that Rodolphe Samuel lost his position as the parliament’s president due to a vote of no-confidence, not because he tendered his resignation.

DP faction leader Roy Marlin wished the new cabinet much success and noted that the country’s financial situation has gone rapidly down the drain. “Our reserves are down 35 percent from 60 to 40 million guilders,” he said, underlining the need to get the state finances in order.

Marlin again came back to a proposal he made in the past to reduce the travel budget for Parlatino-meetings and to use these funds to hire assistance for writing legislation. With the new majority in place this proposal now seems to have a chance to get the parliament’s approval.

The nine MPs voted unanimously for the election of Gracita Arrindell as the successor of Rodolphe Samuel. Arrindell was also the first president of parliament, but she had to give up the position in 2012 after the by now infamous calypso-coup.




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