Violations campaign rules upset NAPOSTED: 07/29/14 7:18 PM
St. Maarten – The National Alliance has expressed grave concern at the move by authorities to disregard parliament’s unanimous call for campaign rules and engage in what appears to be the bending of the rules to suit the political parties that had been blatantly violating them over the past weeks.
“Are we to assume that every rule set in this country can be broken and then be rewarded with the go ahead to continue breaking them? NA leader and Member of Parliament William Marlin asked in a press release issued late on Sunday. “Rules are there to be followed and this sort of situation is making a mockery of our system.”
Marlin said Parliament had unanimously adopted a motion in 2013 calling for a number of measures to be put in place for the August 29 parliamentary election.
He said rather than carrying out the wishes of Parliament to enact these measures, Minister of Justice Dennis Richardson opted to “consult” with party leaders on the matter. Seemingly the only party leader who refused to attend a meeting with the Minister of Justice was the leader of the United People’s Party Theo Heyliger, Marlin said.
Based on this the Minister concluded that he couldn’t reach a consensus with political parties and therefore had decided to put in place a number of rules that he published and sent to all political parties.
These rules included that campaign material may not be attached to traffic signs, traffic lights, guardrails, and bridges and are not allowed on or around roundabouts, nor may these hinder or endanger traffic.
Low and behold, the press release states, instead of enforcing the rules he outlined, the Minister sat back, allowed in particular the UP leader Theo Heyliger and his candidates to completely violate the regulations.
“After public outrage over the violations and apparently also several complaints to the minister it was then decided to “consult” with those who violated the rules and then agree (with them) to allow all the violations. The only rule now would be that the material placed should not endanger the traffic.”
Calling this a sad moment for the upholding of justice in the country, Marlin said this move by the Minister is setting a bad precedent that can have serious repercussions. “What message are we sending to the population when we set clear rules, allow them to be broken and trampled upon and then buckle to the wishes of the violators and give them the go ahead to continue violating the rules. This sort of precedence can create chaos and disorder in the country which no one wants.”
Marlin said the big question to the minister now is, whether he would also allow a blatant violation of the rules applicable for Election Day such as the distance between the polling station and the placement of campaign material by candidates and political parties.
The Minister of Justice has indicated in his list of rules that political assemblies, parades and gatherings are not allowed within 150 metres of the front door of every polling station.
“If the minister of justice has caved in and allowed the UP to blatantly violate the rules he put in place, what guarantee do we have that a further violation of rules will not take place on Election Day on August 29th? The blatant disrespect of the rules by the UP party and the lack of enforcing the rules by the minister are only breeding fertile ground for anarchy on Election Day,” Marlin said.
“It would not surprise me that on Election Day the Minister will turn a blind eye again and allow certain parties to place campaign material anywhere they would want, even if they are in complete violation of the rules.”
The National Alliance has issued “a firm call on the Minister of Justice to strictly enforce the rules that he had issued for election campaigning, particularly since the Minister did not carry out the motion unanimously adopted by Parliament.”
As far as this newspaper has been able to establish the United People’s party, and the United St. Maarten party are the ones that have not honored the agreement to remove campaign billboards from roundabouts.