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Manzoni officially installed as Gendarmerie Commandant

page3b128MARIGOT--Sébastien Manzoni was officially installed as Commandant of the Gendarmerie for St. Martin and St. Barths on Thursday in a ceremony at the La Savane compound.

Manzoni took up his post in St. Martin on August 1, however, the ceremony was delayed due to a similar ceremony for his superior, Colonel Jean-Marc Descoux, which had to take place first in Guadeloupe.

The ceremony on Thursday was presided over by Colonel Descoux who wished Manzoni success, noting the post of a Commandant is a difficult job that rarely allows time off due to the level of crime manifesting itself on a daily basis. But he said he had every confidence in Manzoni’s abilities.

“The St. Martin people expect more security and that is our priority,” Descoux said.

Also present for the ceremony were Vice-President Ramona Connor, MP Daniel Gibbs, and Préfète Anne Laubies who wished Manzoni success and noted the excellent work the Gendarmerie does in combating crime. They in turn expressed the wish for the population’s anxiety over crime to be reduced.

Préfète Laubies said she could sense Manzoni is “a man of action, someone who knows what he’s doing, and I appreciate that.”

The ceremony included Colonel Descoux bestowing military medals on two Gendarmerie officers for long service. The recipients were Major Lionel Liandrat, Chief of the PSIG, and Major Yves Arcana, Deputy Head of the Detectives Department.

Commandant Manzoni remarked the Gendarmerie’s military medal is one of the most prestigious decorations to be awarded to subordinate officers.

“I’m delighted that these two very deserving officers have been decorated on the same day that I officially take command,” he said.

Governor requests judges to evaluate positions in ongoing political impasse


GovernorHoliday~ To provide advice in five working days ~

 HARBOUR VIEW--Governor Eugene Holiday has requested that “a special panel of three judges” from the Joint Court of Justice of Aruba, Curaçao, St. Maarten and Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba and the Constitutional Court of St. Maarten “evaluate the constitutionality of the implementation of the political positions” in the current impasse between Parliament and the Marcel Gumbs Cabinet.

Due to the urgency of the situation, the panel has been requested “to provide an advice within five working days.”

The “independent” panel is specifically requested to evaluate the Constitution in the context of the country’s Constitutional Law to “provide a clear legal position regarding Articles 33, paragraph 2; Article 40; paragraph 2 and Article 59 of the Constitution.”

The Governor met with all parties involved in the impasse on Friday to inform them that he deemed it “prudent” to install the special panel to obtain an urgent advice. “It is evident that this political situation must in the interest of the country be resolved urgently,” he said.

In the meetings, the Governor said he had issued an appeal to the new majority in Parliament and the Council of Ministers “to meet with each other and discuss the matter within the pertinent forum aimed at finding common ground for an orderly constitutional process to avoid having a governance vacuum.”

He said in a press statement issued on Friday afternoon, “Where there is significant disagreement between the parties in regard to the constitutionality, the Governor deems it prudent to encourage parties to arrive at a constitutionally sustainable solution. Parties have been informed that the Governor will take further steps once he receives the judicial position.”

The Governor requested that all parties forming part of the impasse “subject their positions to the common good for the people.” He also encouraged actions “that will foster the resolution of the political differences within the limits of our Constitution” and “maintain and protect the integrity of our constitutional democracy and to foster actions in keeping with our constitution based on the rule of law.”

He said he had “returned the draft decree” to dissolve Parliament and call for elections to the Council of Ministers “without in any way making suggestions regarding the content.” The Marcel Gumbs Cabinet resubmitted the draft national decree to dissolve Parliament and call snap elections on October 15. If the Governor signs the decree St. Maarten may head back to the polls as early as February 2016, just over a year and a half after casting ballots for the present Parliament.

In light of the current political environment and the ongoing debate, the Governor said he considered it important that the population “takes stock of the situation based on facts and free from the ongoing political manoeuvring.” He reemphasised that political debate was “a prerequisite for growth in any democracy.”

The impasse between Parliament and the Council of Ministers started on September 30 when the new National Alliance (NA)-led majority in Parliament passed a motion of no confidence against the cabinet. In response, the cabinet reached a decision a few hours later to call for new elections and dissolve Parliament via a draft national decree that was sent to the Governor to sign. The new coalition wants the Ministers of the now-crumbled United People’s (UP) party-led coalition to resign, but the Ministers want elections.

Since the impasse developed, the governor has consulted with all parties involved “to get clarity” about the political situation. He has “encouraged and warned parties … to adhere to the democratic principles as laid down in our laws, established in and derived from our constitution.”

On the discussions concerning the authorities of Parliament and of the Council of Ministers, the Governor said it was essential to note that in St. Maarten’s dualistic system of government, the authorities of the two bodies are separate and independent, but limited by the rule of law.

“Our parliamentary democracy gives parties the freedom and right to a difference of opinions. This means that within or between the two bodies, differences of opinions can and will arise from time to time,” he said.

“It is not the role of the Governor to dictate the results of differences of political opinions. When political actions result in concerns in regard to their constitutionality, the Governor’s role is to warn and emphasise that it is imperative to only execute decisions that are in keeping with the democratic principles as anchored in St. Maarten’s Constitution.”

Regarding political manoeuvring in Parliament, the Governor said it was not his role to dictate what should or should not be done politically. He is charged, based on the law and his oath on taking office, “to uphold and ensure that the Constitution is upheld, obligated to act in accordance with the law.”

Holland marks 200 years parliamentary democracy

page19a128THE HAGUE--Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte gave a speech on Friday at the special joint assembly of the Dutch Parliament’s First and Second Chambers in The Hague. This special meeting at the Hall of Knights (Ridderzaal) was arranged as part of the merriments to celebrate parliament’s 200th anniversary.

On October 16, 1815, the Dutch Senate and the lower house of Parliament, together called the Estates-General (Staten-Generaal), met together in The Hague for the first time.

Prime Minister Rutte was initially not able to deliver a speech as he was scheduled to attend the European Council in Brussels. He would have been replaced by Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher. But since the European Council was cut short, Rutte was able to speak at the joint assembly himself.

Before an audience, which included King Willem-Alexander, former Prime Ministers and chairpersons of the First and Second Chambers and guests from the countries in the kingdom, Rutte said the Netherlands is having a parliamentary democracy to be proud of.

Former Prime Minister Wim Kok was more critical, and cautioned Parliamentarians to make more efforts to reduce the gap between residents and politicians.

Chairperson of the First Chamber Ankie Broekers-Knol and her counterpart in the Second Chamber Anouchka van Miltenburg also made speeches. Several performances by artistes were also part of the programme.

The First Chamber consists of 75 members chosen by the Provincial Estates, which are the councils of representatives of each province. These representatives are directly elected by the people in that province. However, this was not always the case.

Between 1815 and 1848, they were chosen and appointed by the King or Queen of the Netherlands. The number of members was also not always the same. It started with 40 to 60 members, was reduced and then increased again to the current 75 in 1956.

The Second Chamber is made up of 150 members elected directly by the people. There was a time that there was one representative per 45,000 citizens, but in 1956 the number was fixed to 150.

The Estates-General meet in the Binnenhof complex in The Hague. In these buildings, the Prime Minister also holds his office, which is called “The Turret” (Het Torentje), and the Council of Ministers meets in the complex every Friday as well.

The Second Chamber, however, moved from its original hall in the Binnenhof to a new building adjacent to it in 1992.

The Estates-General in its modern form with two chambers turned 200 years on Friday. However, the Estates-General already existed in a different form since 1464.

Back then, the Estates-General referred to the three estates of representatives for the people, whose support and consent the King needed to be able to reign properly. These were high clergymen, knights and the bourgeoisie. The French word états which referred to these three estates was translated into Dutch to Staten. This definition also goes for the earlier mentioned Provincial Estates.

The anniversary of the current Estates-General marked how special it is that the current parliamentary system is still in place, and that the Netherlands has one of the oldest parliaments in the world.

National decree for new top cop at Governor for signing

PHILIPSBURG--The appointment of Police Commissioner Carl John as the new Chief of Police will soon become a reality.

The National Decree to make the appointment of the top cop official is currently at Governor Eugene Holiday’s cabinet for signing, Justice Minister Dennis Richardson told The Daily Herald in a recent update.

John had been tipped since last year as the replacement of current Police Chief Peter de Witte. However, the process to appoint him has been lengthy. Richardson announced in Parliament some weeks ago that the Council of Ministers had approved John’s appointment and that the national decree had to be finalised.

Dissolution decree corrected, sent back to Governor for his signature

PM__Marcel_Gumbs_and_Governor_Holiday_PHILIPSBURG--It looks like elections on December 8 may still be in the cards. The Marcel Gumbs Cabinet has made adjustments to its draft national decree to dissolve Parliament and has sent it back to Governor Eugene Holiday for his signature.

The draft decree was sent to Holiday on the night of September 30, hours after the new National Alliance (NA)-led coalition passed a motion of no confidence against the seven-member Cabinet. The Governor sent the decree back to the Cabinet on October 5 with notations for adjustments and additions.

The major change to the decree is said to be the addition of missing information about the timeline for the Electoral Council to prepare for the elections.

The Daily Herald understands that although the Governor sent the draft decree back to the Cabinet on October 5, it only reached the Council of Ministers this week. Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs apparently learnt about the return of the decree to his Cabinet when he met with the Governor on Tuesday. He then made a concerted effort to locate the decree and have the Cabinet deal with it urgently.

The Cabinet is said to be confident that with the corrections made to the decree it will be signed off by the Governor soon.

The Gumbs Cabinet has been at odds with the new coalition with a majority in Parliament since the adoption of the motion of no confidence was passed against the Cabinet on September 30. The new coalition has maintained that it has the right to form a new Cabinet, while the existing Cabinet has moved to invoke Article 59 of the Constitution to dissolve Parliament. 

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