SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Gracita Arrindell, Leader of the Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA) states: “Most agree that Sint Maarten is terribly off in the wrong direction. Following the devastation of hurricane Irma, programs and policies are not sufficiently coherent and interconnected five months after. At first glance, while it may seem that there is economic activity overall, many of our citizens and businesses are having a real hardship making ends meet.
“Beneath the surface of their daily existence, the quality of life of our people has seriously deteriorated, businesses continue to struggle to keep personnel or they are being laid off.
Amidst all this turbulence and uncertainties, new snap elections have been called. Why?”
Arrindell continues: “The bluff of the People has been called by those political parties who Failed our citizens miserably in their representation of their duties. PPA believes that the people and only the people has the opportunity to decide which political party has the appropriate vision and programs, transparency in decision making for the future direction of this beautiful island. Staying home out of understandable frustration, or to ‘spite’ all parties, is not helpful”.
“Not casting your vote will more likely than not keep the same parties in office.
This is an opportunity now more than ever to ensure a transparent, and accountable decision making on our future policies and programs that affect the quality of life of our people and that of generations to come. One clear example of such a critically important decision to be made relates to the landfill in the center of Philipsburg. I have referred many times over to situation of the garbage dump as a ‘ticking time bomb’. Apparent none transparent decision making regarding the best way to solve this eyesore and health hazard, has undoubtedly led to the perilous state of affairs we are faced with today. In fact, no signature (s) should be affixed to any new proposal that has not been vetted by the soon to be elected Parliament.
Arrindell adds, “It is imperative to have observers on Sint Maarten to witness this most important democratic process not in the least because of the uncertainties and un-clear reasons to the voters why we must once again go to the polls in less than eighteen months. A normal election cycle should be held every four years. Following the fall of yet another government and pre mature dissolution of Parliament, it is not unreasonable to have observers present. There is too much at stake.
“After the polls are closed, we must all be assured that People voted their conscience and that the electoral process was conducted in a free and fair manner.
Having observers in Sint Maarten is nothing new. Our first referendum was successfully organized and held in 1994. As the chairman of the referendum committee, we invited among others a United Nations representative (Dr. Nour-Eddine Driss) to be present and witness the Referendum. Process. Additionally, we received professional support and advice from former Ambassador for CARICOM for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Drs. Lucita Moenir- Alam, who guided us through the process of our first referendum. Her expertise and support was invaluable.
“Another example of observers being part of an electoral process on the islands of the former Netherlands Antilles, is the fact that during the 2017 elections held on the island of Curacao.
Sint Maarten as well as Aruba, including international organizations such as the CARICOM and OAS were invited and participated fully as observers. Why not extend a similar courtesy and invite the aforementioned entities to Sint Maarten?”
PPA leader concludes: “It’s not too late for the interim Council of Ministers to do the right thing and extend this invitation to have a delegation of observers present. Obviously and regretfully it is too late to invite representatives from international organizations. However, we must still make a maximum efforts to secure the eminent persons from Aruba and Curacao with the right experience and integrity to be present and observe our elections in the interest of safeguarding the democratic process guiding our elections. Especially after our citizens have experienced great personal and material losses followed by loss of faith in our political leadership at both the Government and Parliament level, it’s imperative to have a sense of comfort and confidence that all processes and procedures are open and transparent before, during and after the polls are closed and the votes are counted, and the People have spoken.”