Thursday, May 23rd

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New NA-led Govt looms

page1b290~ Sarah to remain as PM, UP to form opposition ~

PHILIPSBURG--The National Alliance (NA), Democratic Party (DP), independent Members of Parliament (MPs) Frans Richardson and Patrick Illidge and now-former United People's (UP) party MP Romain Laville have teamed up to form a new government, according to a joint press statement sent out last night.

This new coalition of 10 of the 15 MPs effectively leaves the UP, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Theo Heyliger, to occupy the opposition seats in Parliament.

The government shakeup will leave Heyliger and Education Minister Rhoda Arrindell without roles in the legislative and executive branches of government. They both had resigned as MPs to serve as ministers (members of the Council of Ministers) following the September 2010 elections.

President of Parliament Gracita Arrindell (UP) will continue in her post until the Rules of Order of Parliament are changed to allow for the president of Parliament to be elected at the start of every parliamentary year, which begins in September. Under the present rules, she heads Parliament until the end of the governing term in 2014.

Sources close to the UP said Heyliger was negotiating within his party to take up a place in Parliament, a move which they contended could happen only if MP Johan "Janchi" Leonard vacated his seat, but there are doubts as to whether that is possible under the present constitution.

A similar situation exists in the case of Minister Arrindell, whose seat as an MP was taken over by MP Dr. Ruth Douglass.

NA, headed by MP William Marlin, will take up most of the posts currently held by UP members: Deputy Prime Minister; Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI; Minister of Finance; Minister of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture; Deputy Minister Plenipotentiary; and President of Parliament.

According to information received, Marlin will take up the post of Deputy Prime Minister/VROMI Minister, portfolios currently held by Heyliger, while the Finance post is expected to be taken up by former finance commissioner Roland Tuitt. The latter post is currently held by Minister Hiro Shigemoto.

The Education portfolio, now held by Minister Rhoda Arrindell (UP), is expected to be taken up by educator Silveria Jacobs. The nominee for the post in The Hague, currently held by Richard Panneflek (UP) is not yet known.

Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and Public Health, Social Development and Labour Minister Cornelius de Weever of DP as well as DP-named Minister Plenipotentiary in The Hague Mathias Voges are expected to remain in their posts while the post of Second Deputy President of Parliament is expected to be assumed by MP Leroy de Weever.

Wescot-Williams met with some party members in the Philipsburg Community and Cultural Centre on Tuesday night to update them on the development. Afterwards she told the press the membership was "comfortable" with any decision she took as party leader. She said that joining the new coalition hinged on DP maintaining the portfolios it has now in the government.

According to a press release issued last night on behalf of the parties that have agreed to form a new government, Illidge will retain the right to nominate the Minister of Justice. Current Justice Minister Roland Duncan is expected to continue in his post, as his appointment in the UP/DP Cabinet was based on Illidge's support for that coalition.

MPs Richardson and Laville are to appoint jointly the Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunication. This post is currently held by UP party President Franklin Meyers. Laville will become Deputy President of Parliament.

It also was explained in the press release that MPs Romain Laville, Illidge, Roy Marlin and De Weever had sent a letter to Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams on Monday, April 30, informing her that they had withdrawn their support from the current government with immediate effect.

The letter to Wescot-Williams was followed immediately by another letter signed by MPs Laville, Illidge, Roy Marlin, De Weever, Richardson and William Marlin to Governor Eugene Holiday stating that they, with the backing of 10 seats in Parliament, were prepared to form a new government as soon as possible and to give that government their support for the remainder of the governing period 2010–2014.

The letter, also copied to the Prime Minister, stated that in view of the changes, the MPs requested that it be ensured that the present caretaker government does not sign off on any decisions with major financial, governmental and political consequences.

The political upheaval, which has been festering for some time now, came to a head on Saturday when leader of the UP Parliamentary group MP Romain Laville and independent MPs Patrick Illidge and Frans Richardson signed an agreement with NA to work on the formation of a new government.

Laville had shown dissatisfaction almost from the beginning of the governing term in 2010 with several decisions of his party's members, including MP Jules James' involvement with the dismissal of workers of the former Pelican Resort Club where he is general manager. Laville resigned from UP over the weekend.

Illidge and Frans Richardson were originally members of the National Alliance before going independent.

The UP leadership has been in discussions in the past days to try to hold the government together and to weigh its options in the changing political landscape. Heyliger had no comment on the developments.

The positions of UP Members of Parliament Jules James and Silvia Meyers-Olivacce remain unchanged, as do those of NA Parliamentarians George Pantophlet, Hyacinth Richardson, Dr. Lloyd Richardson and Louie Laveist. However, should any of the NA MPs – including party leader William Marlin – opt to resign to take up a ministerial post, he will be replaced by another candidate on the NA's list of candidates at the last election. The next NA candidates in line for appointment as MPs are Silveria Jacobs and Rodolphe Samuel.