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Protest against ministers draws only small crowd

page1a126PHILIPSBURG--The angry sentiments expressed on radio and in some quarters of the community against the Marcel Gumbs Cabinet for not resigning in the face of the September 30 motion of no confidence passed by the new National Alliance (NA)-led coalition did not translate into a big turnout for the protest in front of the Government Administration Building on Wednesday morning. Some people on the scene are planning to return to the site again tomorrow, Thursday, for similar action.

Some 30 people gathered on the outskirts of Clem Labega Square after 7:00am.They slowly trickled to the square from that time and left before noon.

When they first arrived at the scene they met a partial blockade of N. Debrot Road which gives access to the administration building. The section of the road leading directly to the building was blocked on one end by a large garbage truck and front-end loader and on the other by a flatbed truck. The heavy equipment was said to have been placed there after 3:30am and was removed at the time the protesters left.

They were joined by Members of Parliament (MPs) Frans Richardson (United St. Maarten Party), Silvio Matser (independent), Silveria Jacobs and Christophe Emmanuel (NA) at various points in the protest.

Although protesters had planned to prevent members of the cabinet from accessing the building, none of the ministers who arrived for work were hampered or even approached by protestors.

First to arrive on the job was Education Minister Rita Bourne-Gumbs. She walked past the heavy equipment and made her way into the building.

Infrastructure Minister Claret Connor maneuvered his vehicle past the heavy equipment to park in his designated spot in front of the building. He exited and strolled to the building without any contact from protestors. He came out of the building later in the day and headed to his car without incident.

Health and Labour Minister Rafael Boasman and Minister of Economic Affairs Ernest Sams, both of whom have been on the job for just over a month, headed into work unhindered by protesters.

Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs, however, was the exception. He drove to the building headed into the parking lot behind and accessed his office from the lot. He did not have any contact with the protestors.

Towards the end of the protest, MP Christophe Emmanuel accompanied a group of protestors who headed to the entrance of the administration building with a chain with which they attempted to lock the main door. They were halted by government security and when they appeared somewhat hesitant to desist, police were called in. The ranking officer spoke to the splinter group of protestors and the protest subsequently broke up.

In reaction to the attempted door chaining, the Press Secretariat of the Council of Ministers issued a press release stating that new coalition MPs “stood by and watched while a hand full of protesters tried to cause havoc with MP Christophe Emmanuel instigating them to charge the front door.”

Police had to intervene, according to the release, “during the little militant protest” that saw one protestor attempting to chain the doors. The man with the chain was “caught on camera,” but was not arrested. He was “warned and pardoned to foster peace amongst the small gathering.”

The attempted door-chaining “instilled fear in several civil servants causing them to vacate the building,” said the press secretariat.

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