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Holiday starts consultation on formation of new gov’t today

page1a089HARBOUR VIEW--Governor Eugene Holiday will start consultations for the formation of a new government as of today, Monday, September 1. The consultations will be held with Vice Chairperson of the Advisory Council; Ombudsman Nilda Arduin-Lynch; outgoing President of Parliament Gracita Arrindell and the leaders of the four political parties that obtained seats in the elections: United People’s (UP) party leader Theo Heyliger, National Alliance (NA) leader William Marlin; Democratic Party (DP) leader Sarah Wescot-Williams and United St. Martin (US) party leader Frans Richardson. The consultations are intended to promote a smooth transition for the appointment and installation of a new Council of Ministers, taking into account the results of the 2014 parliamentary elections on Friday. Holiday said on Sunday, that the current government has not tendered its resignation.

UP biggest, but NA, US, DP sign accord

page1a088PHILIPSBURG--St. Maarten will have yet another coalition government after Friday's elections. National Alliance (four seats), United St. Maarten Party (two seats) and Democratic Party (two seats) signed a declaration of willingness before dawn today to work together to form a new government.

DP leader Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams told The Daily Herald about the declaration shortly after the signing took place at the DP election headquarters at Bute Hotel.

The short declaration states that the parties are willing to work together. The coalition's governing programme and division of government responsibilities will be announced in the coming days.

United People's (UP) party with its seven of the 15 Parliament seats appears to be heading to the opposition benches. The party is one seat short of a clear majority to be able to go into government without support from NA, DP or US Party.

The preliminary seat allocations show that UP has gained one seat since the September 2010 early Island Council Elections.

NA lost three seats from when it was the winner of the 2010 elections with seven seats. However, it could be said that NA is maintaining its four seats in Parliament. After its win of seven seats in 2010, three of its Members of Parliament went independent.

DP maintains its two seats in Parliament.

US Party is a new party on the scene, headed by former NA, now independent, MP Frans Richardson.

By law, only two residual seats can be awarded. Those seats went to UP and US Party. UP earned six seats outright and the seventh seat was the residual seat. US Party earned one seat outright and its second was the residual seat.

UP Member of Parliament Theo Heyliger received 6,156 votes while NA of MP William Marlin received 4,011. Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams' DP received 2,398, and independent MP Frans Richardson's US Party 1,636 votes.

The two other parties in the election were One St. Maarten Party (168 votes) and Social Reform Party (131 votes). Neither party received sufficient votes for a seat.

The quota was 967 votes per seat, compared to 917 votes in 2010. What is interesting is that SRP had just one candidate, businessman Jacinto Mock, who received all its votes. OSPP had nine candidates, yet came in only 37 votes more than SRP.

The total number of eligible voters for this election was 21,433 (not 21,457 as previously announced by the Central Voting Bureau). The change in the number is due to some 20 people being removed from the voter registry by court decision.

The number of valid votes was 14,500 votes (69 per cent), up from 14,009 (72 per cent) in 2010.

Invalid votes numbered 303 and blank votes were 79.

Total votes cast: 14,882.

UP gained some 1,220 votes since the 2010 elections.

NA lost about 2,260 votes since the last elections.

DP gained some 28 more votes this election than the last elections.

The names of the 15 parliamentarians will not be known until later today, Saturday, when the Central Voting Bureau completes the crunching of the numbers. Results will be announced via the media and posted on the government's website

www.sintmaartengov.org .

The preliminary results, announced by the Bureau around 4:00am Saturday, will be verified in a public meeting of the bureau in five days, based on Article 87 of the Electoral Ordinance.

Bureau Head Jason Rogers said the earlier release of the preliminary results had been hampered by several "factors." Those factors included polling stations opening one hour later than previous elections, an increase in the number of voters and more polling stations.

The teams at the 20 polling stations "worked diligently" to count the ballots. The teams were commended for "a job well done," Rogers said.

Frans: Our message was loud and clear!

page3a088PHILIPSBURG--United St. Maarten party leader Frans Richardson reaffirmed his party's mission of continuing to make life better for the people of St. Maarten in his speech directly following this year's election's preliminary results. The party earned two seats.

"While some of them had counted us out, our message was loud and clear," Richardson said.

"Our message was clear, our message was loud, our message cannot change in this game. We made a promise to work for you the people. ... We intend to carry out that promise," he said on behalf of 14 fellow party members standing alongside him in front of the Government Administration Building.

"This country of ours is going through some serious, serious social issues. Those issues are affecting our people. We are saying, 'No longer can we continue in the direction that we are heading.' In the coming weeks and years this party has the job to continue to make life better for the people of St. Maarten. Stand with us, progress with us, work with us. The work is only now starting

Sarah: DP to evaluate results, open to talk

page7a088PHILIPSBURG--The Democratic Party (DP) will be "digesting" and "evaluating" the preliminary parliamentary election results and will determine how to proceed, given the distribution of seats announced early this morning.

"We need to digest the results. That's where we will start. Then we see what needs to be done," DP leader Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams told The Daily Herald at the party's headquarters at Bute Hotel just after the announcement.

"The DP has been in this to give stability to the government of St. Maarten and to give credibility to a government of St. Maarten. We just received the final results and we will evaluate them, look at the position of DP as well as that of other parties and decide how we move from here."

She said the preliminary results showed that the electorate wanted parties to work together. "If I look at what the electorate has indicated clearly, it's about working together, whichever those parties are. Clearly that's the mandate that has been given and the DP is willing and able to take up that mandate of the people and we will see where that leads us."

Wescot-Williams, party candidates and supporters spent Friday night into Saturday morning at the party's headquarters at Bute Hotel listening to election results on two large-screen televisions and crunching numbers as results were announced.

Asked whether the party planned to challenge anything in this process, Wescot-Williams said: "We haven't decided that yet. Naturally we crunched numbers. We were a little ahead of the official numbers.

"We received numbers informally and we looked at that and crunched them as we had them. That's what we have been doing all night. So now that the official numbers are in, we are going to look at those and make sure that they are in accordance with the law and then, once that has been verified, then the next step will follow."

Govt agrees that suspected directors should step down

PHILIPSBURG/THE HAGUE--The Government of St. Maarten agrees with the Wit-Samson Committee that directors of government-owned companies, who are a suspect in a criminal investigation, need to step down until this investigation is completed.

Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and Justice Minister Dennis Richardson stated this in their formal response to the July 2014 report of the Wit-Samson integrity committee. The response was sent to the Parliament and Governor of St. Maarten, as well as the Kingdom Council of Ministers on August 21.

The integrity committee, installed by the St. Maarten Government, had recommended having directors of government-owned companies quit when they are a subject in a criminal investigation of severe integrity violations until that investigation has been completed and their name cleared.

"Government subscribes to this recommendation and will seek further legal advice on how this would be included in the statutes and contracts. The Minister of Justice will consult with the Public Prosecutor's Office and the National Detectives (Landsrecherche) as to what would be a reasonable term, not to have investigations proceed too long," the ministers stated.

The Minister of Justice will put the committee's recommendation into practice to formulate a plan of approach with the Public Prosecutor's Office and the National Detectives to combat integrity-related crimes, such as fraud and bribery, and to give this a high priority.

Government also positively responded to the recommendation to have periodic external system audits into the safety, vulnerability of corruption and integrity of the airport and harbour.

Experts of Royal Dutch Airlines KLM and Air France have started a system audit of the safety at the airport at the request of the Justice Minister. This investigation will be completed shortly and may serve as a model for similar audits at, for example, the harbour. Regular safety audits are already being carried out at the harbour in consultation with American "stakeholders."

The Justice Minister will consult with the various justice entities working at the airport after he has received the results of the audit at the airport by KLM/Air France experts. However, it is already clear that the mutual cooperation between these entities, such as police, Customs, Immigration and Marechaussee is insufficient and that coordination of this matter needs to be strengthened, Wescot-Williams and Richardson stated.

A thorough evaluation of the Immigration Service should start at the end of this year which should result in a better coordination with the other justice units at the airport.

Legislation and regulations regarding the prostitution policy and to combat human trafficking will be adapted in the implementation of the new Penal Code, the ministers pledged. The controls of brothels require improvement. The Human Trafficking Combating Coordinator will be in charge of this, in cooperation with the Public Prosecutor's Office and police.

The Finance minister will execute the committee's recommendation to carry out additional controls in "vulnerable sectors" such as casinos in the process of reorganising and strengthening the Tax Office.

Casinos are insufficiently audited due to the lack of capacity at the Tax Office. Also the casinos have a backlog of an estimated NAf. 11 million in controller fees, which are needed to pay the cost of the controllers. The recommendation to establish the Gaming Control Board shortly will be followed-up.

Wescot-Williams and Richardson informed Parliament, the Governor and the Kingdom Government that a plan of approach would be drafted to carry out the committee's recommendations and to also establish a committee to monitor the progress.

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