Rumors run amok in local politics: Coalition may fall apart with De Weever’s departurePOSTED: 09/25/14 1:40 PM
St. Maarten – Rumblings in local politics were rife on Wednesday morning and the likely outcome seemed to be at a certain moment that the coalition of National Alliance, St. Maarten United party and Democratic Party would collapse due to the defection of DP-stalwart Cornelius de Weever.
Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams said yesterday morning at the Council of Ministers press briefing that indeed, De Weever had decided not to continue as Minister of Public Health, Social Affairs and Labor and that he had opted to take up his seat in parliament.
There were however even stronger rumors that De Weever had decided to leave the DP and to join forces with the United People’s party of Theo Heyliger.
Sources close to the process of writing the governing program for the NA/USp/DP-coalition had indicated already some time ago that the involvement of De Weever in the deliberations had been close to zero and that it was unclear to coalition-members what he really wanted.
Sources confirmed that De Weever wanted his niece Millicent de Weever to become the new Minister of Public Health, Social Affairs and Labor, but that he had found no support for this proposal from his party or from coalition partners.
After the Council of Ministers press briefing, where DP-party leader Sarah Wescot-Williams confirmed that De Weever had opted to take up a seat in parliament but that “as far as I know” he was still a member of her party, the action moved to the parliament building where the parliament was supposed to handle a budget amendment to facilitate, amongst others, the purchase of the Emilio Wilson Estate and to remove provisions for the controversial purchase of the Vorst Estate.
This meeting did not go through because of a lack of quorum. Parliament President Gracita Arrindell was in the building earlier in the morning, but before the scheduled start of the meeting at 11 a.m. she left. In the conference room of the building, a boisterous and apparently cheerful meeting of members of the United People’s party was underway. None of the UP-members signed in for the meeting in an obvious move to block the Parliament from removing the Vorst Estate purchase from the budget amendment.
Independent MP Romain Laville chaired the parliament meeting, but when there still was no quorum half an hour past the scheduled starting time, Laville declared the meeting closed. It will be reconvened within 4 times 24 hours (probably on Monday) and if that meeting does not get a quorum, it will be reconvened again within two times 24 hours. In that meeting the members present will be able to take decisions.
Yesterday morning, apart from Laville, the MPs Louie Laveist, George Pantophlet, William Marlin, Hyacinth Richardson, Frans Richardson and Roy Marlin were present. Only Gracita Arrindell and Leroy de Weever were absent with notice. Especially the absence of independent MP Patrick Illidge was noticed, triggering rumors that he had been bribed not to attend and, by his absence, ensuring that the meeting would not have a quorum.
DP-faction leader Roy Marlin asked whether there was still a coalition, said with a somber face, “I honestly cannot answer that question at this moment.”
MP George Pantophlet and National Alliance-leader William Marlin ducked the question about De Weever’s possible defection. “Why don’t you give him a call,” Pantophlet suggested, and Marlin promised that everything was going to play out in the meeting that was at that time about to begin. Unfortunately, that never happened.
Sources close to the formation talks could not, or did not, confirm reports about De Weever’s departure from the Democratic Party, saying that all they had was rumors as well and that De Weever was not answering his emails.
That the parliament meeting did not go through is probably a relief for Vromi-Minister Maurice Lake, who earlier this week announced that he is preparing his legal defense in case the new parliament wants to hold him personally accountable for the Vorst Estate purchase.
If the tables turn (once again) Lake will have nothing to worry about.