PHILIPSBURG – On Thursday October 10th, Prime Minister the Honorable Leona Romeo Marlin decided to step down to depoliticize important matters that are pending decision at Parliament. In a letter addressed to the Governor, the President of Parliament has indicated that the new coalition no longer considers the Prime Minister answerable to Parliament.
Before leaving office, Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin issued the following statement,
“Why did I stay on as de-missionary Prime Minister after the motion of no confidence? As I mentioned before, I had already tendered my resignation on September 23rd and stayed on whilst the governor had the resignation under advisement. The Governor requested the Council of Ministers to stay on as a caretaker Government.
The constitutional status is not unambiguous. The conclusion derived from the writings of constitutional scholars is inconclusive. It suggests that there is no consensus that after the motion of no-confidence of September 25th, I should actually leave.
There is however a consensus amongst the constitutional scholars that, when a motion of no-confidence specifically targets concrete actions or lack thereof by a specific de-missionary minister, that de-missionary minister, if asked to leave immediately, should vacate his/her position immediately.
Motion No. 1 of September 25th, 2019 however, did not specifically target any concrete actions or lack thereof attributed to me as Prime Minister. The conclusion was therefore justified that a situation that would be supported by a constitutional consensus had not occurred. Therefore, I stayed. I made it perfectly clear that, as I had already tendered my resignation to the Governor, once he accepts the resignation with immediate effect, I would leave with immediate effect.
What changed? On October 1st, 2019, the Chairman of Parliament sent a letter to the Governor with a copy to Government, which required additional attention and reflection. From this letter, I had to conclude that the current majority in Parliament considers my continued presence in the Council of Ministers as de-missionary Prime Minister, so Cabinet of the Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin The Government of Sint Maarten politically controversial and as such unacceptable, that Parliament no longer considers me answerable to Parliament and will not entertain my presence therein.
The Chairman of Parliament requested the Governor for clarity on my de-missionary status in view of the pending handling of the money laundering and anti-terrorism legislation to meet CFATF requirements, which was scheduled for a public meeting on, October 9 but now rescheduled for October 11th.
As Council of Ministers, we have always emphasized that a satisfactory outcome of the legislative process to meet the CFATF requirements is the most important matter to be dealt with to avoid economic disaster for our tourism driven economy. This needs to be dealt with, without any further delay in the interest of the country. Being blacklisted is simply is not an option.
Therefore, I submitted a letter to the Council of Ministers dated October 7 requesting the Council to reconsider my resignation tendered on September 23rd, 2019 and to accept the resignation. This was an attempt to depoliticize the issue of removal from office and other important files, I had hoped to solve the political impasse and to allow Parliament to assume the responsibility to take all necessary decisions, including ensuring to avoid the blacklisting of Country Sint Maarten
I do this, because this is not about me, Leona Romeo, this is about Sint Maarten’s sustainable future. It should be country before self always. I have been reading that we should wake up and smell the coffee, well the clock is ticking to the point of no return. I urge all involved to feel the sense of urgency, to step up to the plate, stop the divisive rhetoric and depoliticize urgent dossiers in the interest of the country. I know that the election campaign has started, but on matters for country Sint Maarten we cannot afford to lose any more time.
This decision to step down now was not easy to take but for me the time has come to take leave of this prestigious office which I have served for roughly 22 months with great pride, in service of you the people of Sint Maarten during a particularly difficult period of our early history. I know that I have done my utmost to serve Sint Maarten well. I urge the “Formateur” to continue where the Romeo-Marlin Cabinet left off, there is a lot at stake and many projects in the pipeline to be completed which will benefit the people of Sint Maarten.
On Wednesday, October 9th the Council of Ministers in its meeting, voted against the motion presented by the Coalition of 9 and I stand/concur with the reasons given. At the same time, this does not stop the hindering of the political impasse as the Chairman of Parliament advised the Governor that it is especially important to understand the status of both the de-missionary Minister of Justice and the de-missionary Prime Minister in view of the pending handling of legislation to meet CFATF requirements, scheduled now for a public meeting on October 11th, 2019.
The Council of Ministers has always considered the CFATF requirements one of the most important matters for this Country. Though I wholeheartedly agree with the reasons given by the Council of Ministers on the motion of no confidence, I stand by what I previously stated and that is the blacklisting of Sint Maarten on the financial market is simply not an option. Additionally, it goes without saying that I would like to remove myself from the subliminal tone of the letter of the Chairman of Parliament to engage in a political dispute between the Parliament of Sint Maarten, the Kingdom Council of Ministers and The Governor of Sint Maarten.
As parting Prime Minister, I have one wish as we are about to celebrate Constitution Day, let’s all commit to start the tenth year of our Country status by setting divisive political rhetoric aside and do what the country needs to live up to internationally accepted principles of good governance and pursue the United Nations sustainable development goals in the interest of the people of Sint Maarten. Whatever political color you belong to or support, these objectives should not be politically controversial. Plan, commit, prepare and execute for the success of Sint Maarten. Our people deserve this.
There are many persons that I would like to thank for supporting me, first of all, the current and past members of the Council of Ministers that served with me. Please take note, I will cooperate with a smooth transition and that I am prepared to support them wherever they may deem it necessary and reasonable.
I also take this opportunity to thank all the people of Sint Maarten, civil servants within the Government of Sint Maarten, specifically those in Ministry of General Affairs and VSA for their great support and cooperation. To the staff of my Cabinet and especially my extended and immediate family members, words of appreciation are simply not enough to express my thanks to you during my tenure as Prime Minister.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Martin Luther King Jr.