Opposition tossed out of Parliament

~ Governor swears in new coalition members ~

WILLEMSTAD–The planned meeting of Curaçao’s Parliament started and quickly ran out of control on Wednesday. Interim President Humhprey Davelaar (PNP) opened the proceedings and immediately went over to the order of the day, but opposition members intervened and were ultimately removed from the building.

As first topic Davelaar wanted to handle the installation of the seven candidate parliamentarians to replace those of the recently sworn-in MAN/PAR/PNP/PS Government that had resigned as such to become Minister. To do this, Parliament normally appoints an internal committee to review the credentials.

But it never got that far as MFK-leader Gerrit Schotte took the floor, calling the meeting and Government illegitimate because the incoming coalition is no longer backed by a majority, with only four of its original 11 seats in the 21-seat legislature left. He said Davelaar could not name the committee as he did either, as this is task for the entire [read majority of – Ed.] Parliament.

Although the opposition had signed for a quorum so the meeting could take place, Schotte wanted the chair to handle other documents that had been received earlier first as is the custom. When Davelaar refused to comply and closed Schotte’s microphone a shouting match ensued in which opposition parties’ sympathisers on the public tribune also got involved.

Davelaar following some strong verbal exchanges ordered the MFK-leader to leave and when he refused called the police. KdNT-leader Amparo dos Santos joined Schotte in his protest and he too was told to get out.

The officers came and after some discussion advised the two leaders as well as the crowd and journalists to vacate the building. Other opposition members followed suit.

Before that Schotte had in turn demanded that the President of Parliament be removed since he is not supported by a majority. He also wanted the current nine-seat majority consisting of his party, KdNT, MP and independent (former PAR) parliamentarian Edward Braam (one-seat UKH is not part of the group) to hold an own meeting and form a new Government.

Once all others had left, the four coalition members continued the plenary session and approved the credentials of the candidates. The intention was to subsequently have them take the oath of office from Governor Lucille George-Wout, but at the insistence of Schotte she agreed to hear the opposition leaders on their grievances first.

After that meeting Schotte said the Governor apparently saw nothing wrong with what took place and planned to swear in the new parliamentarians, despite the fact that there had been no quorum when the credentials were approved and his repeated requests for a roll call had been ignored. He maintained that this violates the country’s Constitution as well as Parliament’s Rules of Order and said the opposition’s “new majority” would take some decisions of its own.

The seven incoming parliamentarians were finally installed at 5:00pm and the suspended Parliament meeting continued afterwards.

Ex-general secretary of St. Maarten’s Parliament Franklin Hanze did not agree with Curaçao’s opposition. In his view Parliament has 21 seats and not 14, so the installation of the seven new members could not be obstructed, once again giving the Koeiman Cabinet its required majority legislative backing.

Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/62693-opposition-tossed-out-of-parliament