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SXM Airport remains open Monday

                sxmpjialogosmall

SIMPSON BAY, St. Maarten (Sunday, August 23, 2015)—The Princess Juliana International Airport, SXM, will remain open Monday, August 24, 2015. This after due consideration has been taken concerning all standard international safety measures related to the passage of a storm.

As all weather reports continue to indicate that Danny is further weakening as it approaches our area, with some reports downgrading it to a tropical depression, it has been determined that the airport will remain open.

 

Should the weather conditions change the situation will be reevaluated accordingly.

 

                 Travelers should contact the respective airlines for flight information


Citizens of five Caribbean countries to get visa-free travel to Schengen area

EUROPE--Nationals of Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago no longer need a visa to travel to most European countries.
  The visa-free travel to 26 countries of the Schengen area comes with the signing of a short-stay visa waiver agreement with the European Union (EU) on the margins of the EU-African Caribbean and Pacific Ministerial meeting in Brussels.
  The agreement benefits a total of 19 nations in the Caribbean, Pacific, and the Middle East. It allows travel to Schengen area countries for a stay of up to 90 days within any six-month period, without requiring a visa, as long as the purpose of the visit is not to carry out a paid activity.
  The Schengen area comprises 22 European countries in the European Union and four non-EU member states that make up the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) that have abolished control at their common borders to encourage free movement of goods, information, money and people, plus four non-EU member states.
  Those countries are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech
Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden, as well as EFTA’s Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein.

Prime Minister Gumbs: All Businesses to close by 10PM Sunday Evening

including Restaurants and Casinos until further notice

PHILIPSBURG – Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs, chairman of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), received an update on Sunday from members of the EOC about the current status of Tropical Storm Danny. The actions being taken by the Government of Sint Maarten are of a precautionary nature. The Prime Minister gave a national address with respect to the current decisions that have been taken.

“Tropical Storm Watch remains in effect for Sint Maarten as a precautionary measure. The system is expected to pass further to the south of the country based on information received from Sunday morning.

“Forecast rainfall could be two to four inches. In the event of continuous heavy rainfall, the possibility does exist for land slippages and those living in hillside areas should exercise caution. Due to the drought situation that the country has experienced over the past months, flooding is possible, as the water may not drain directly into the ground.

“Weather conditions are forecasted to deteriorate late Sunday night or early Monday morning.

“Waste haulage companies were busy on Saturday picking up garbage and will continue to do so until Sunday afternoon. GEBE operations based on current data in connection with electricity and water services will continue undisrupted we expect. St. Peters Hurricane Shelter, Rupert Maynard, will be open as a precautionary measure.

“Schools are closed on Monday, August 24 as well as daycare centers. Government services are also closed on Monday, August 24.

“All businesses are to be closed from 10.00PM Sunday evening, August 23 until further notice. This includes restaurants and casinos. The aforementioned decision related to businesses will be evaluated based on the latest weather reports as that becomes available from the Meteorological Services.

“Staff who provides essential services for Hotel operations, the aforementioned can continue to remain open based on the hotel’s disaster plan in providing hospitality services to our visitors.

“Airlines services continue to operate as normal on Sunday. In connection with Monday, August 24, travelers should call their respective airlines for information.

“The landfill will remain open on Sunday until sunset.

“The actions taken to date and in connection for Monday, August 24, are of a precautionary nature to safeguard life and property in the event things should change.

“Let me repeat this once again:

“The actions taken to date and in connection for Monday, August 24, are of a precautionary nature to safeguard life and property in the event things should change.

“I will address the nation at noon on Monday, August 24 to give an update with respect to the situation,” Marcel Gumbs, Prime Minister of Sint Maarten said on Sunday in a national address to the nation.

Suriname's Bouterse on track for second presidential term

desiSuriname's President Desi Bouterse (C) of the ruling National Democratic Party and his wife Ingrid are mobbed by supporters after he cast his vote during parliamentary elections at in Paramaribo, Suriname, May 25, 2015.

PARAMARIBO--Suriname's President Desi Bouterse, a former military ruler convicted of drug trafficking in the Netherlands, looked on course for a second term after his party won a slim majority in parliamentary elections, according to first results on Tuesday.
  Based on an unofficial but widely accepted preliminary tally of votes around the nation, Bouterse's National Democratic Party (NDP) won 26 or 27 seats in the 51-member assembly.
  "The NDP has won the elections," said Ramon Abrahmas, the campaign leader for Bouterse, whose charismatic style and social welfare policies seem to have won over voters.
  The opposition coalition, on track to take 17 or 18 seats, accepted defeat. "We did not make it. That is a disappointment," said Chandrikapersad Santokhi, a former justice minister and police commissioner who leads the V7 opposition coalition and was Bouterse's main rival.
  Although Bouterse, 69, needs a two-thirds majority in parliament to guarantee a second five-year term, he seemed likely to get that via allies or a separate mechanism whereby a special expanded assembly votes for president. That process, however, could take months.
 The local election board was due to give final formal results of Monday's election within one or two weeks.
 Convicted in absentia of drug trafficking by a court in the Netherlands in 1999, Bouterse always has denied wrongdoing.
  He had also faced prosecution for the execution of 15 opponents in 1982 during his military rule, but the National Assembly passed an amnesty law in 2012 that gave him immunity. Santokhi, then police commissioner, had led the probe.
  Bouterse's son, Dino, was sentenced in March to 16-1/4 years in prison, after pleading guilty to U.S. charges that he tried to offer a base to the Lebanese paramilitary group Hezbollah.
  Bouterse, a former sergeant who took part in two coups in 1980 and 1990, said Suriname's 550,000 people had benefited economically in the last five years, especially from increased child education benefits and health care for all. His jokes and songs on the campaign trail also have gone down well with voters.
  "Bouterse is a people's leader ... someone who is presenting himself well both in words and in deeds," said NDP supporter and government employee Vanesse Wong A Ton, 40. "To realize all our plans, we need five terms, not only five years!"
  Opponents, though, accuse the president of cronyism and corruption.
  Suriname, perched on South America's northeastern shoulder, won independence from the Netherlands in 1975 and is now a gold and bauxite miner with a nascent oil industry.

Suriname to the polls today, Monday

polls2

Roadside campaigning

 

By Marvin Hokstam

 

PARAMARIBO--Political parties in Suriname held their final rallies on Saturday night, ahead of the general elections on Monday, May 25. As things were left on the eve of the voting, President Desi Bouterse’s National Democratic Party (NDP) appears dead straight opposite the six opposition parties that formed the V7 coalition.

At the kick-off of the campaigns earlier this year, no fewer than 25 parties had signed up to compete in the elections. While coalitions have since been formed, splits and defections have also since occurred, leaving tomorrow’s election scene four parties that enter individually and six political combinations. Bouterse’s NDP is one of the individual contenders, facing the mammoth V7 coalition led by Chandrika Santokhi. Both political giants turned their closing rallies into huge parties Saturday night; both appeared sure of victory, but both nonetheless urged the electorate to come out and give them their votes.

 Five more

Bouterse said his party existed to serve. “We do not work for the NDP, but for the people,” Bouterse said. He said his party has grown into a movement that has shown so much prowess in the past five years of leading Government that it lured over members from opposing parties.

“It is a pleasure to work shoulder to shoulder with people who came from different ideologies. The past five years were not easy, but we stand here today, ready to serve five more years. We are servants of the people,” he said. NDP’s wrap-up rally was held at OCER, the party’s headquarters.

 Santokhi

Speaking at a rally at Grun Dyari, the headquarters of V7 member party NPS, Santokhi reached out to parents, urging them to not let their children make the mistake of voting for NDP. He said he wants a better Suriname for the people of tomorrow, the youth. “We promise that we will invest in human capital. We want a strong Government. We want strong leadership,” he said.

The former police commissioner who also served as Justice Minister said V7 is coming with hurricane-force winds. “You may check with the meteorological office; they’ll tell you that there’s a storm coming that will blow all the mess away. A new wind will blow in this country. Just give us the chance,” he said.

The opposition leader said the work that was put in during five years in the opposition benches should serve as proof that V7 will govern correctly. “We are ready to take over.”

 Here and now

More than 350,000 registered voters received their voting cards over the past months. Recent polls say that Bouterse, a former army sergeant who ruled as military leader after a coup d’état in 1980 and became president in 2010 after democratic elections, is favourite, especially amongst the young voters. This is notwithstanding an 11-year drug sentence he received in absentia from a Dutch court in 1999 and despite the fact that he is widely held responsible for the December 8, 1982, murders of 15 of his opponents.

A charismatic speaker, his popularity rose in his first term of Government, due to measures like doubling the old age pension and the Government child support. His Government also built several thousand affordable homes and introduced a free healthcare insurance scheme for children of 16 and up. Young voters queried by Dutch pollster Maurice de Hond indicated that they care less about his past than about the here and now.

But several of Bouterse’s opponents including Santokhi have expressed concern that Bouterse’s governing is steering the country toward a financial crisis. Anthony Caram, for instance, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Aruba who is now an economics professor at the Anton de Kom University of Suriname, hinted that Government expenditures have increased exponentially while there is not sufficient income to offset this. “The financial risks that these policies bring are too large. We can still turn the tide. If we wait too long we will have no other chance but to take drastic measures,” he said.

 Observers

At least four international organisations have confirmed their presence in the elections in Suriname. According to electoral authorities, the list of observers includes 11 members of the Caribbean Community, 20 from the Union of South American Nations, 24 from the Organization of American States and five from the European Union.

Polling stations open at 7:00am. There are 623 stations posted throughout the country. Voters can cast their ballots until 7:00pm. The Central Voting Bureau CHS has said that it expects to be able to announce preliminary results at 10:00pm. The winner will be declared by 3:00am Tuesday.

 

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