Damaseau alludes to ‘new era of politics’ after Gibbs, VPs released from custody | THE DAILY HERALD

First Vice-President Valérie Damaseau. Photo by Robert Luckock.

MARIGOT–Following the release from custody on Friday of President Daniel Gibbs and two of his vice-presidents, Valérie Damaseau and Annick Pétrus, First Vice-President Damaseau warned: “St. Martin is going through a fragile period where attempts are being made to destabilise us and prevent us from being concentrated and united.”

The three had been held for 36 hours for extended questioning by the Gendarmerie into the circumstances under which bids were awarded in 2018 after Hurricane Irma,

“But we remained focused and provided all the necessary explanations,” she said, reacting on her Facebook page. She said she wanted to address what she described as a new era of politics.

“Wanting to do good for your country and your people is not enough to fill an elected seat. Take the time to learn about public law and tendering rules, because you are responsible for so much more than great initiatives or beautiful projects. While everyone sees only the final product, you are responsible for ensuring that the process is followed every step of the way.”

The elected officials were detained as part of an investigation led by the prosecutor of Basse-Terre into determining whether procedural rules for awarding certain public bids were adhered to in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

Third Vice-President Petrus also commented, saying she had been able to demonstrate her “integrity in the management of the current affairs of the departments under my responsibility by transmitting in all transparency and good faith all the administrative documents and information requested by the judicial authority at this stage of the procedure.

“I am confident and determined to continue my missions as they were on the first day, with an unwavering commitment to serving my people,” she stated.

Because of the on-going investigation, Damaseau said Monday she was unable to discuss the matter further. Gibbs has also not yet reacted publicly.

The Collectivité indicated in a statement following their release on Friday that the prosecutor’s office considered it unnecessary for an investigating judge to be brought in and no indictment had been issued. However, the investigation continues to determine whether procedures were not followed.

“This hearing complies with legal custody procedure in the context of an investigation of this type and is not unusual,” the Collectivité emphasised. “Nor does it reflect in any way the involvement or conviction of the persons interrogated. The principle of presumption of innocence must prevail, including in all comments and articles published on the matter.

“The Collectivité also wishes to state that this investigation takes place in a context of consultation between the State and the Collectivité over the actual duration of the so-called ‘extreme urgency’ period decreed after the passing of Hurricane Irma. The services that were provided then were mandated by the Collectivité within the context of such crisis.

“The Collectivité reminds those who may have forgotten that the awarding of these contracts was made in a highly damaged territory after the passing of the hurricane. The Collectivité was obligated to tend to multiple emergencies while its administration centre was itself completely devastated. This was a period that lasted several months during which numerous actions were carried out to respond to the immediate urgency of the territory and of its inhabitants.

“Considering the unprecedented and degraded circumstances, the risk of administrative errors made in the chain of execution is therefore plausible. The elected representatives [who were heard – Ed.] provided, with complete transparency and good faith, all the administrative documents and information requested by the judicial authority. The Collectivité remains at the disposal of the judicial authorities for any further solicitation in the context of these proceedings.”

No further insight into the investigation could be obtained from the Guadeloupe prosecutor over the weekend.

Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/91719-damaseau-alludes-to-new-era-of-politics-after-gibbs-vps-released-from-custody