Plasterk not concerned about political crisis in Bonaire

POSTED: 07/15/13 11:47 AM

THE HAGUE – Kingdom Relations Minister Ronald Plasterk does not consider the political crisis in Bonaire a controversial issue, Jamila Baaziz reports on Caribisch Netwerk. From a letter to the Second Chamber, it appears that he shrugs off the reports that reached him in June about an eminent political crisis on the island. Governor Lydia Emerencia said to be under fire due to her fight for integrity. The letter appeared yesterday, on the day Emerencia was called to account by the Executive Council and the Island Council.

Plasterk does not seem to find the political crisis, as reported by several media, particularly worrisome. Answering questions from PvdA-MPs Pierre Heijnen and Jeroen Recourt from early June, the minister indicates that he receives mixed signals about the cumbersome relationships in the Bonairean politics. “I am aware of the reports. That does not mean per se that all reports adequately represent the facts. This is why I keep myself frequently informed about the developments by my support staff and the Kingdom representative.”

The rift in confidence between Emerencia and the coalition parties in Bonaire is not with certainty linked to the governor’s battle for integrity according to Plasterk: “It is and it remains difficult to make statements with exact certainty about the motives of those concerned in Bonaire.”

The Minister holds that the Executive Council in Bonaire is free to change the governor’s portfolio, as long as it leaves her legal tasks alone.

Minister Plasterk did not give an opinion about the fact that Bonairean politicians that are the subject of a criminal investigation remain in office. He only explained which formal requirements an administrator has to meet “like having the Dutch nationality, a resident of the public entity, at least 18 years of age, and not banned from the right to vote.”

In early June, Plasterk already stated in the First Chamber that the question marks about the integrity of a number of criminally suspect administrators in Bonaire worries him less than the integrity-issues in Curacao and St. Maarten.

In December, the minister expects an advice about options to promote the integrity of the administration in Bonaire. Plasterk has indicated that in the meantime codes of conduct have been established for commissioners, Island Council members and governors in Bonaire and Statia.

The Island council of Bonaire wants Governor Emerencia to give account of her functioning in a public debate, Belkis Osepa reported yesterday on Caribisch Netwerk. During a second Island Council meeting, the coalition stopped short of submitting a motion of no-confidence against the governor.

The coalition has summed up what it sees as “events that detail Emerencia’s one-sided actions that touch on integrity.” The letter, that was made available to the media early Friday morning, mentions the number of days Emerencia was off-island in 2012, and that on those days nobody is allowed to take decisions about crucial topics. The coalition also accuses Emerencia of holding back a permit, of thwarting commissioners, of acting on her own initiative without a mandate from the Executive Council and of abusing her position.

Like on Tuesday, the Island Council meeting was met with a peaceful demonstration of citizens that came out in support of Governor Emerencia. With pamphlets and signs, they showed that they stand with the governor and welcomed Emerencia as a hero on her way to the meeting hall. The crowd, mostly dressed in white, sang the Bonairean anthem and shouted: “We are one, we are one.”

One of the Island Council meetings late on Thursday dealt with the controversy surrounding Commissioner James Kroon. The Public Prosecutor’s Office has accused him of forgery and fraud with the issuing of a taxi license. Kroon took his time to give his side of the story. He said he had done nothing wrong and that there are shortcomings in the procedures for the issuing of taxi licenses.

Kroon also said that the prosecutor’s office had pressured him to take a quick decision about signing the dismissal with the accusations, or let the prosecution take the case to court. Kroon did not make clear what he did to be accused by the prosecutor’s office of fraud and forgery.

Six Island Council members (the coalition and opposition-member Benito Dirksz supported a motion to issue the disputed taxi license after all. The motion states that the requester should not become the victim of political games. Legally the Island Council has the authority to give somebody preferential treatment on a waiting list. The majority decided that the governor has to take steps to obtain the necessary advice to make it possible to issue the license.

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