PHILIPSBURG–Democratic Party (DP) Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams was elected the new Chairperson of Parliament and United St. Maarten Party (US Party) MP Frans Richardson was elected Second Vice-Chair during an urgent plenary session of Parliament on Thursday.
National Alliance (NA) MP Rodolphe Samuel maintained his position as first Vice-Chairperson of Parliament.
MPs first voted on a motion to relieve former chairperson United People’s (UP) party MP Claret Connor of his duties and thank him for his services. The motion was passed with nine votes in favour and three against. Connor chaired the opening of the meeting.
The continuation of the meeting, following the passing of the motion, was chaired by Samuel, who appointed Richardson and NA MP Irion Ardwell to a committee to oversee the voting on the Chairperson and Second Vice-Chairperson.
Wescot-Williams was appointed with 10 votes in favour of her appointment and three blank votes. Richardson was elected Second Vice-Chairperson with nine votes in favour of his appointment. There was one vote for Samuel to be the second Vice-Chairperson and three blank votes.
Following the voting, NA leader William Marlin congratulated the new Chairperson and Second Vice-Chairperson on their appointments. He expressed hope that Wescot-Williams could count on the support of all MPs.
Marlin said there were quite some issues necessary for debate in Parliament in the upcoming period. He alluded to screening of Ministers as one of the issues Parliament should debate.
Another “serious issue” that needs to be addressed is the length of time prosecutors take to bring a case to court.
“Presently someone can be accused of something in 2010 and in 2016 there is still no decision of a case in court,” Marlin said. “Not that we are looking forward to citizens to be condemned, but it is not fair for someone to have a yoke of suspicion hanging over his or her head and not knowing if they are going left, right or centre.
“If there is an investigation, it has to be concluded in a timely manner so justice can be concluded. You can’t have someone waiting in limbo for a number of years. This is one of several issues that Parliament needs to address.”
He said also that there was some legislation pending and expressed hope that the new Chairperson and rest of the presidium would “jump on these issues.”
The 2017 budget also “requires the attention of Parliament,” he said. It is hoped that the budget will go before Parliament by December 15.