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Parties’ slates numbered for ballot, SRP gets blue

PHILIPSBURG--The colour blue was awarded to the Social Reform Party (SRP) of Jacinto Mock by the luck of the draw at Friday’s public hearing of the Central Voting Bureau. SRP and United St. Maarten (US) both had requested blue as their parties’ designated colour on the ballot for the August 29 Parliamentary Elections.

Article 36, section II, of the Electoral Law stipulates that if more than one party request the same colour, the awarding of the colour will be decided “by faith.” Faith took the form on Friday of two slips of white paper – one marked “SRP” and another “US.”

These were individually followed by a member of the bureau and placed into a shiny silver pint container with a plastic lid. The container was shaken, the lid removed and one of the slips removed by the bureau member. The slip of paper folded in quarters was opened to reveal “SRP” – the party to which the colour blue was awarded.

US party, led by independent Member of Parliament Frans Richardson, had the opportunity to select another colour from the ministerial decree that established the colours to be used for the elections. The party selected cyan (a greenish-blue colour). Other available colours were yellow, brown, black and magenta.

All parties had submitted their preferred colours to the bureau on Nomination Day on July 11. Five parties – United People’s (UP) party, One St. Maarten People’s Party (OSPP), US party, Democratic Party (DP) and National Alliance (NA), opted to re-submit their colour requests to the bureau at the public hearing. Only SRP opted not to resubmit, as its request for blue still stood.

Four parties received their requested colours without a hitch – UP green, OSPP purple, DP red, and NA white.

The bureau’s five members all voted unanimously to award each colour to each party.

Each party will have its designated colour as the background of the party’s slate of candidates on the ballot. Colours are used to differentiate the parties to voters. The parties also use the colours in their campaign materials.

In the case of blue, US party, which is contesting an election for the first time, same as SRP, already has been using a shade of blue in its campaign material. The party will now have to decide if there is time to adjust its campaign material and at what financial cost that will come.

 

Colourful language

At the end of the hearing, Richardson approached the bureau to voice his discontent with the way the colour selection had been conducted. He told Rogers he was miffed about Rogers’ statement that requested colours would be awarded to parties that had used them in the past election.

Richardson said this was erroneous, because the August 29 Parliamentary Elections will be the first such elections for the country. The September 2010 Early Election was for an expanded Island Council. Those 15 Island Council members became MPs based on transition regulations on October 10, 2010, when St. Maarten attained the status of country within the kingdom.

Rogers only had read from the electoral law that mandated the awarding of colours. He had explained earlier in the hearing that the law stated if two parties requested the same colour, the one to which the colour had been assigned in the last election would be given preference for the colour. However, SRP and US were both new parties.

It is precisely because these are the first parliamentary elections that the bureau held the public hearing to award the colours to all parties contesting the elections. All parties had to request their colours, just like all parties, whether they were in a past election or not, had to have their slates of candidates endorsed by voters two weeks ago.

Richardson was told by the bureau that he could file a formal complaint if he had an issue. He declined to do so, but he verbally protested that his party had not received the list of the approved colours for the elections. A bureau representative showed him the list and informed him that it had been in the package the party had received from the bureau at the start of the process.

 

My ‘blue’

Mock said after the hearing that he would ask the Central Voting Bureau what could be done to halt the use of blue by the US party. “I don’t feel like sharing,” he told the press.

The party awarded the colour blue should be the only party allowed to use that colour and any shade of it, he said. His preference for the colour blue was known from the time his party was registered with the Electoral Council. Mock said he had informed officials every step of the way he wanted blue as his party’s colour.

When Richardson launched the US party in December, he was already using a light blue that has since become his party’s signature colour.

 

1 to 6

Prior to the awarding of the colours, the six parties’ slates were numbered, also “by faith” as dictated by law. The numerals one to six were each written on a separate slip of paper and a similar process was followed with the initials of the six parties. The numeral slips were placed in one silver can and the party initials in another.

Two members of the bureau on either side of the table in Dr. A.C. Wathey Legislative Hall shook the containers and removed the lids for the selection to take place. First a number was blindly selected, then same was done for a slip with initials.

The first number out was “six” and the party was OSPP. That process continued until each slates had been given a number. US party will be slate number one on the ballot, NA two, UP three, DP four, SRP five and OSPP six.

Together with the list number and colour, the parties can inform their supporters about the distinguishing elements of their slates on the ballot.

Friday’s public hearing was held after the bureau verified that no eligible voter had filed any appeal with the Court of First Instance against the bureau’s approval of the six parties’ slates on Tuesday. By law, voters could have filed appeals against the bureau’s decision.

Traffic chaos after truck loses excavator

page1b058COLE BAY--Traffic chaos erupted around 3:00pm after a flat bed lorry on A.J.C. Brouwers Road, driving down Cole Bay Hill from the direction of Philipsburg, apparently suffered a mechanical problem, causing its driver to lose control.

The driver steered the truck into the side of the road to stop it from picking up speed. This caused it to slam into a tree and lose an excavator it was carrying, which then rolled onto its side and onto the middle of the road.

Miraculously, no one was injured and only one other vehicle was damaged, as it was hit by the tree which fell down after it was hit by the truck.

As the incident blocked the entire road, vehicles could not move from one end to the other end of St. Maarten, and large traffic jams disrupted people's day all the way from Simpson Bay through to Philipsburg.

Traffic police attended the scene to investigate the accident and to regulate the traffic, whilst the Fire Department cut the tree into pieces, so it could be removed. Fire fighters also cleaned up oil spilled on the road.

A second excavator and a front end loader attended to remove the excavator, which suffered extensive damage, but was said to be repairable, and the truck could be reversed back onto the road before it, too could be removed.

At 5:50pm the road was clear, however, it took at least another thirty minutes for traffic to flow freely again.

Probe of police officer ‘as good as concluded’

PHILIPSBURG--The investigation into allegations against community police officer J.S. is "as good as concluded," spokeswoman for the Prosecutor's Office Tineke Kamps confirms. The Prosecutor's Office expects a trial against S. to begin before the end of the year.

S. was arrested in February 2014 for the alleged abuse of a teenage girl. He was placed under initial suspension ("buiten functie gesteld") which means he was banned from all police buildings and was made to hand in his badge and his firearm after the allegation was made. Whilst the investigation was ongoing, S. continued to receive a salary from the Police Force, as is customary during the investigating of, what was at that point, only an allegation.

After completion of the criminal investigation, S. will also be subject to a disciplinary investigation by the Internal Affairs Department, which will check if any police regulations or professional rules of conduct have been breached.

During a criminal investigation's procedure, an officer has the same rights as any suspect, and therefore is not obliged to answer questions. During an internal police misconduct investigation, an officer is obliged to answer questions truthfully.

Police Chief Peter de Witte explained that, once the criminal investigation is finalised, he will formally apply to obtain the information regarding the criminal investigation from the Prosecutors Office. He will then make a report for the Minister of Justice after which an official decision will be taken about a permanent suspension of S.

A decision will also be taken at that point whether S. will receive part of his salary until conclusion of the court case, or whether he will lose his salary altogether.

Another officer who is subject to a criminal investigation, A.V.H., who was alleged to have seriously assaulted his ex-partner, is still on his initial suspension. His case is still being investigated by the National Detectives, four months after the allegation was made.

Jamaloodin held in Wiels-murder

WILLEMSTAD--Former Curaçao Finance Minister George "Jorge" Jamaloodin (MFK) was arrested early Tuesday morning as suspect in the "Maximus" investigation into the intellectual authors behind last year's paid assassination of PS-leader and parliamentarian Helmin Magno Wiels.

The trial for the "Magnus" part of the case regarding the execution of the murder itself is scheduled for the first week of August.

Jamaloodin (46) was detained in his apartment at Seru Estate. Authorities also searched the home and confiscated several items, as was the case at his private business Speedy Security Group on Lindberghweg, a family member's residence in Steenrijk, a house on Heelsumstraat, a hotel room in Punda and several other undisclosed locations on the island.

It is suspected that Jamaloodin either took the initiative to kill Wiels or helped orchestrate the "hit" on someone else's behalf. The fact that the murder weapon found in the Waaigat inlet on indication of one of the suspects was said to have belonged to a local security firm already led to speculation that the ex-minister might be involved.

MFK-leader Gerrit Schotte in a first reaction stressed everyone is innocent until proven guilty. The former prime minister, who along with his female partner was recently detained for money laundering and forgery but since released, said it seems like they are targeting the current opposition party.

He acknowledged that his name was also being mentioned in the Wiels-case. "I keep hearing that, but they had me for several days so I would have expected the same Kingdom Detective Cooperation Team RST and the National Detectives to ask me about it then."

Justice Minister Nelson Navarro (PAIS) earlier this week had said there were more suspect people than Schotte in MFK. Jamaloodin was minister in the Schotte-cabinet from 2010 to 2012.

Schotte claimed it is actually within the coalition circles that the answer to the murder lies and if they had questioned certain persons 16 months ago, the crime would be solved by now. He said they did not do so at the time for political reasons and predicted that the PS/PAIS/PNP/Sulvaran government was about to collapse.

Wiels was shot dead on May 5, 2013, on the beach at Marie Pampoen. He was the leader of the largest party in Curaçao, "Pueblo Soberano."

Several people were arrested during the course of the investigation. Two weeks ago a man was held who apparently extorted one of the intellectual authors of the murder.

In April, suspect Elvis "Monster" Kuwas confessed that he had been the triggerman. He said he was paid for the job.

Before he died, Wiels had announced that he was on the track of a "big fraud case." The late political leader stated that he had information about illegal SMS-lotteries that would supposedly incriminate lottery boss Robbie dos Santos, who is Jamaloodin's half-brother and himself the target of a forgery/money-laundering/tax evasion probe. Dos Santos is also alleged to have helped fund MFK's election campaign.

Following a six-hour period for questioning, it was decided to hold Jamaloodin for another 48 hours. After that a Judge of Instruction would have to rule on a possible request to keep him in custody for an initial eight days.

Drive-by shooting

page1a057A drive-by shooting in Dutch Quarter on Thursday night left a young man in critical condition nursing several gunshot wounds at St. Maarten Medical Center. The man, who is said to have been released from prison recently, was riding a bicycle on A.Th. Illidge Road when a small car pulled up alongside and someone in it started firing at him. Police spokesman Inspector Ricardo Henson confirmed the shooting incident and requested the cooperation of any witness to this crime.

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