Heyliger: We are not reneging or changing the coalition

POSTED: 09/15/11 12:42 PM
Vice Prime Minister and Leader of the United People’s (UP) Party Theodore Heyliger prepares to speak at Wednesday’s Council of Ministers press briefing. Coalition partner and Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams is seated at his left
GREAT BAY – “One year going and continues to be very strong.” That’s Vice Prime Minister and Leader of the United People’s (UP) Party Theodore Heyliger’s response to speculation that Frans Richardson’s move to become an Independent Member of Parliament will lead to the formation of a new governing coalition.

Heyliger, whose UP Party won six seats in the September 17, 2010 election, formed a coalition with the Democratic Party on September 21, 2010 and then signed an Accord of Inclusion with Patrick Illidge on October 3, 2010. This gave the present administration nine seats in Parliament. When news surfaced that Richardson was also contemplating becoming an independent rumors also surfaced that he’d be joining with Heyliger and there would be a cabinet shakeup.

“There are no issues in the coalition. I have yet to see where any challenges lie with the ideologies of the three parties that make up the present government. I have given Mr. Richardson my congratulations for leaving the National Alliance and I said I looked forward to working with him as a Member of Parliament for the betterment of St. Maarten. In no way did that gesture to him mean that we’re reneging or looking at changing members of the coalition,” Heyliger said.

The vice prime minister also reiterated that Minister Franklin Meyer’s explanation by pointing out that decisions were made and licenses were granted by the outgoing Executive Council that sat until October 5, 2010, which the present government continued processing. That includes a license for Millennium Star N.V. to operate a casino. Rumors had circulated that the government used the handling of the license to get Richardson to declare himself an Independent MP and pledge his support to the coalition. At last Wednesday’s Council of Ministers press briefing Meyers said that was not possible because the license was requested by Obensio Fleming, not by Richardson.

“Mr. Meyers gave a complete rundown as to the process but yet still the rumor mill fed, of course, by the sale of newspapers continues to bring this forward. So maybe if they have additional information I look forward to it,” Heyliger said.

The vice prime minister is the second person this week to stress the coalition’s health. Democratic Party faction leader Roy Marlin also stressed the coalitions continued unity on Monday. He’d been asked if there was an issue in the coalition because he supported having yearly elections for the Chair and Vice Chairs of Parliament.

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