St. Maarten Christian Party (SMCP) Member of Parliament (MP) Claude “Chacho” Peterson speaks during the closing of Parliament on Monday.
PHILIPSBURG–The St. Maarten Christian Party (SMCP) will be re-evaluating, in the coming days, the commitment of parties in the governing coalition to live up to agreements made to work together, SMCP Member of Parliament (MP) Claude “Chacho” Peterson said during the closing of the parliamentary year on Monday.
“During this parliamentary year … the lack of cohesion in the Council of Ministers and the ongoing sabotage by those who do not adhere to strong principles of good governance and who are out to disrupt any clear and well-articulated policy or procedure that has been agreed upon is now evident for all to see,” Peterson said.
“To SMCP the lack of cohesion and sabotage is clearly disrupting the progress of the country. SMCP finds this unacceptable. … A coalition is like a marriage, where trials and tribulations can either strengthen your partnership or eventually lead to divorce. I continue to believe in stability and I remain fully committed to serve our people while upholding the principles of good governance, integrity, transparency, accountability and justice.”
Peterson said it has not always been easy for him to accept some decisions taken by the coalition and the Council of Ministers, but he believes he has demonstrated that SMCP joined the United Democrats (UD) in good faith and with all intentions to fulfil and live up to the agreements made for St. Maarten during the formation process.
He noted that the just-ended parliamentary year had been quite interesting and there had never been a dull moment.
“With a slim coalition majority of eight, we have seen over the past year that the coalition has lost the majority vote many times. We have even seen one of our very own ministers sent home by one MP of the coalition with the full support of the opposition MPs. By all accounts, … this is unheard of.
“Yet this coalition still stands. Some have joked that this is the longest-falling coalition in the history of St. Maarten,” Peterson said, noting that he did not know whether this was now true, given the statement made by UD MP Franklin Meyers minutes earlier that he had pulled his support from government.
“While it is our constitutional duty as MPs to vote our conscience, as a coalition it really puts in question our ability to govern on the basis of what brought SMCP and UD together in the coalition agreement signed on April 5, 2018. This agreement includes, among other things, the need to strengthen Kingdom relations, a Kingdom which includes the Netherlands. This sentiment seems to no longer be shared by all who signed on to this agreement.”
This puts into question the ability of the coalition to support the Council of Ministers in the execution of the governing programme. He said that as a new MP, it has been a great learning experience for him to explore his role as a legislator and his oversight role in the Council of Ministers, in a coalition setting.
“It has been a great experience to chair important meetings of Parliament such as the budget meeting and most recently the meeting in which changes to the labour regulations in the Civil Code were approved. … It has been a privilege to travel within the Kingdom to represent St. Maarten to discuss the various issues plaguing us and our Caribbean Kingdom partners, Aruba and Curaçao.
“In my opinion, the way to truly achieve the status of being equal partners within the Kingdom is for the three islands to unite and support each other, not only on issues we have in common, but also on unique issues each island may face.”