THE HAGUE/PHILIPSBURG — In a letter dated January 25 addressed to the Prime Minister of Sint Maarten, Leona Marlin-Romeo, Dutch State Secretary Raymond Knops turned down the request of the Sint Maarten Government to have the dissolution decree discussed in a Kingdom Council meeting with the intention to have it annulled.
On behalf of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Kingdom Relations (BZK), State Secretary Knops writes to PM Marlin-Romeo: “In your letter you express reservations about the legality of the National Decree concerning the dissolution of the States. You therefore request an opinion from the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom on the legality of the National Decree of 3 November 2017, as amended on 12 November 2017, and on the basis of that to take the necessary measures. On behalf of the chairman of the Kingdom Council I will reply to your letter as follows.”
In his letter Knops continues as follows: “In short, you request the annulment of the National Decree of 12 November 2017 due to conflict with article 59, second paragraph of the Constitution of Sint Maarten. Article 59 of the Constitution guarantees that the Parliament can be dissolved prematurely with the certainty that the newly elected Parliament meets within a specified period. The amendment decision of 12 November 2017 came from the exceptional situation as a result of Hurricane Irma and the attending serious concerns about the feasibility of organizing orderly and careful elections. However, that decision also has the consequence that the election date, and with it the dissolution of the Parliament, will be at a later date than the period of three months prescribed in the Constitution. I can however well understand your position on this point.”
Knops: “As indicated above, Article 59 aims to ensure that the Parliament can be dissolved prematurely with the certainty that the newly elected Parliament meets within a certain time limit. The core of your above-mentioned objections is the exceeding of the provisions of the constitutionally prescribed term of three months. Your proposal to submit the aforementioned National Decree to be annulled on the basis of Article 50, first paragraph of the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands or Article 22, second paragraph of the regulations for the Governor of Sint Maarten will, however, lead to no elections at this stage and to no coming together of the newly elected Parliament within the term of three months. A cancellation of the dissolution decision would be under these circumstances just lead to further postponement of the elections, which is not in line with your position that the electoral process should not be disturbed.”
The State Secretary concludes in his letter: “In view of the above, application of article 50, first paragraph of the Statute for the Kingdom of the Netherlands or Article 22, second paragraph of the regulations for the Governor of Sint Maarten, is not feasible. In this light, I therefore propose that you refrain from handling your request in the Kingdom Council of Ministers.”