PHILIPSBURG–United St. Maarten Party (USP) has requested that Justice Minister Dennis Richardson resign. The request was presented in a letter to the minister delivered on Friday afternoon.
Minister Richardson did not confirm to The Daily Herald whether he had received the letter. He said he was “not commenting” on internal coalition or political parties’ matters.
Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs has indicated already that should the Justice Minister be faced with any vote of no confidence in Parliament the entire cabinet also would resign. The request for resignation was not yet on the table at the time of Gumbs’ statement.
Speaking to the press on Sunday along with Richardson, Gumbs said that if the reason for wanting the Justice Minister gone was the protocol he had signed with the Dutch Kingdom Government at the end of May on the establishment of an Integrity Chamber for St. Maarten, then the entire cabinet also would go, because they all had known of the protocol and had been in agreement with it.
The USP’s resignation request was discussed in Friday’s governing coalition meeting, but only briefly, with no solid end result. The meeting of the United People’s (UP) party-led coalition, held in the Government Administration Building, had as its agenda point the draft country budget for 2016.
It is understood that the board of USP, led by Member of Parliament (MP) Frans Richardson, made the decision this week to formally request that the minister resign. The party gained control of the Justice portfolio as per January when it joined the UP party coalition, but the minister was not appointed by USP.
An agreement exists that the Justice Minister will remain in his post for at least a year. However, the USP board is said to now want the minister to vacate the post because of what they deem lack of communication and respect for the party and its leader.
The specific case that has been cited is the Justice Minister signing a protocol with the Dutch Kingdom Government at the end of May on the establishment of an Integrity Chamber for St. Maarten, but leaving out the USP party leader from e-mail correspondence in the consultations.
USP holds one seat in the 10-seat coalition that also comprises UP (7 seats) and independent MPs Cornelius de Weever and Leona Marlin-Romeo.
Parliamentarian Frans Richardson formally requests that Minister of Justice Dennis Richardson resigns.