A resident of St. Eustatius showing his support for the restoration of democracy in St. Eustatius by flying the flags of all three parties contesting Wednesday’s Island Council election on his car.
ST. EUSTATIUS–Government Commissioner Marnix van Rij encouraged all eligible voters in St. Eustatius to make use of their right to vote in the Island Council of Wednesday, October 21. He said voting in the election is “very important” because the Island Council will have most of the authorities it had before the administrative take-over by the Netherlands, but not all.
He said the powers of the Island Council are “very essential” in a representative democracy as it has the right to ask questions and draft motions if the majority in the council wants the government commissioners to come into action in a specific area. The right to adopt island ordinances will also be one of the powers the Island council will have, as well as the power to amend or initiate legislation.
“These are all very important authorities… the Island Council will have after [its installation – Ed.] on October 29, 2020,” Van Rij said. After the Island Council members are installed, Statia will enter phase one of its return to democracy.
Based on the Restoration Act St. Eustatius, which came into force on July 16, the Island Council will not have the right to launch inquiries, nor is it tasked with financial matters, which are governed under the FinBES law.
“Deputy Government Commissioner Alida Francis and I want to immediately start working with the Island Council, for example in respect to finance, the budget proposals and the implementation reports,” Van Rij said.
He said he and the deputy commissioner “immediately” want to share information with the Island Council, because “it is very important that the Island Council has the same information that the government commissioners have access to.
During the first phase of the restoration of democracy on Statia, the council will not have the right to approve the public entity’s finances, and will also not be allowed to make any decision pertaining to the legal status of civil servants employed by the Registrar’s Office.
Van Rij said there will be a gradual approach to the return to democracy. In phase two, the Island Council will be allowed to appoint commissioners, and under phase three an island governor will be appointed.
“It is very important to start working together to put a roadmap with milestones and planning in place,” Van Rij said, adding that he and the deputy commissioner are looking forward to working together with the Island Council.
Van Rij stated that he held a video conference with Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Kajsa Ollongren and State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops in which he explained what the election team had done so far. He stated that both the minister and the state secretary were “very supportive” of the team’s efforts and that they are both looking forward to the election.
The two polling stations, which are located at Mike van Putten Youth Centre and Earl N. Merkman Sports Complex will open at 7:30am and close at 9:00pm.
The Public Entity St. Eustatius announced Monday that because of the coronavirus pandemic, and in keeping with Emergency Ordinance 15 and the COVID-19 regulations for the election, group gatherings are not allowed to take place, including at the two polling stations.