On Monday September 23rd, Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin and the Council of Ministers held a press conference in which the Prime Minister elucidated on the decision of the Council of Ministers.
Prime Minister Romeo Marlin stated, “Good morning to my colleagues, the press, and a hearty good morning to the people of Sint Maarten. In my last press briefing, I indicated that once the Governor was back we would address the political impasse and seek further clarity and once known, I would then inform the public accordingly.
A culture of fear increasingly governed the now former coalition and this created a toxic unworkable environment. The country became ungovernable, with many individual coalition members in parliament who thought that they should dictate what the COM, or an individual minister, should do, with complete disregard to our constitution and in violation of the path of office they had taken. The higher tenet of the Trias Politica was consistently at jeopardy. We were also all aware that there are influential people, outside of parliament, actively attempting to take the country’s drivers’ seat, whilst comfortably sitting in the back and not being accountable.
Unfortunately, we had to conclude and as the population can see, they have won.
We knew that there were Parliament coalition members secretly or even openly siding with the opposition, individually holding the entire coalition hostage or threatening to do so. We were quite cognizant of the tactics to dismantle the COM, one by one until a weakened COM was in place, and they would in turn control the majority in COM. We were also cognizant of the sabotage within the COM.
Having these members move to the other side of the isle does not guarantee stability and unity the country needs.
Therefore, On September 22 the Council of Ministers invoked article 59, allowing the voters of Sint Maarten the opportunity to decide on the future of Sint Maarten.
The public of Sint Maarten should note the mandate was given to us in the governing program to work with the Netherlands and the World Bank. As Prime Minister, I was given the mandate to bring home the 580 million USD to help reconstruct and build back Sint Maarten. That mandate was delivered. The same coalition that appointed us in the seats never, once stated to end the working relationship with the Netherlands and the World Bank, or came with a direct viable and executable alternative and so, the COM stayed on its course, despite the criticisms, the sabotage, the deliberate defamation and the spinning of many we stayed the course.
What happens next, I can firmly state today that my conscience is clear, my hands are clean, and I have done all in my power to help the people and business of Sint Maarten. I have always acted in a transparent, open and integer manner. I have secured the establishment of the Trust Fund, the Integrity Chamber and I have personally overseen the preparation of more than 125 million dollars’ worth of reconstruction and resilience projects that will be implemented in the coming years. The financing of the reconstruction airport is set to close in October unless the latest political turmoil results in the investors pulling back. It has been a sensitive dossier but we were almost there. The Council of Ministers worked hard, and has paved the path for the execution of the rest of the Trust Fund Projects.
Ministers, we can leave with our heads held high, knowing that we refused to compromise, and we acted based on information and due diligence, navigating through a very sensitive political environment, and doing that in the interest of the people of Sint Maarten. Can others say the same; hmm I will leave it up to the people of Sint Maarten to decide such?
We are surfing on a high wave as a country and despite the challenges that Irma and Maria brought us we are doing better than expected. Despite the long time that it took to start the disbursements reconstruction funds flowing, we have made tremendous progress. Surfing on a high wave also means the possibility to crash down with great force. I sincerely hope that whoever take over the helm to navigate this country forward will be able to stay the course and bring unity and stability to the country, because without that execution of policies is impossible.
I conclude by stating we love this country and in its interest, we have drawn the line, it is integrity or nothing. I am very well aware that electorally I have no leg to stand on as I was entrusted the position of Prime Minister by default. I have accepted to take up this challenging role respecting the constitution and looking out for the best interests of our country. Moreover, I am proud to have been able to serve my country in this difficult period after Hurricane Irma. It has not been easy. This episode has been testing on my personal life, my health and my family. I have withstood extensive abuse, fake news, sabotage, bullying, threats and deceptions.
Know this, I have nothing to gain from new elections, as I am not interested continuing in politics at this current time and in this current environment. What I would like to see is stability and integrity for this country. If no one is up to the task to do the right things and do them the right way, if none of us has the courage to choose for integrity, then we do
not deserve to continue in power. So, regretfully, once again the time has come to let the people decide. I have to rely on the conscience of our people and I will urge them to carefully consider their vote and to have the courage to choose for the moral high ground. To vote for stability and integrity. Our people and our country deserves this.
The choice is yours to make. The consequences of your choice are clear. On behalf of the Cabinet members, I thank our families, friends, and civil servants for their support in governing this country.
Ministers, I thank you for being on this honorable yet challenging journey with me, I thank you for your courage to walk a straight path. Let us be reminded that when Christ is in the vessel we can smile at the storm.
May God continue to bless this Country. I thank you.