SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - President, Party Leader and member of Parliament of the Party for Progress Melissa Gumbs and PFP Vice President Marvio Cooks expressed concern over the fact that it appeared poster frames were being erected around various spots on the island on Friday, 17 November 2023.
Several of these frames were placed on what is clearly public land, including near Cole Bay hill and the Belair roundabout. The PFP representatives said they were surprised to see the activity, and that several people in the community had reached out to them to ask if it was allowed.
“On Monday, November 13, 2023, the respective representatives of all parties contesting the January 2024 elections attended a meeting hosted by the Central Voting Bureau,” Cooks stated. “KPSM was also co-host to this meeting, which pertained to public order during campaign and on election day.
“In the meeting, the draft guidelines were received, and we were told that the placement of anything related to campaign material cannot take place before midnight on Postulation Day, which is November 22nd. There’s no big concert event or carnival happening so it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that it’s most likely political poster frames going up.”
“The usual required guidelines have not yet been published,” Gumbs said. “However, verbal communication should be sufficient to know that we cannot act in contravention to whatever is coming. Several of the frame placements were being put inside the roundabouts on the island, which we were told would not be allowed.
“It will be curious to see if the final published version will contain some hastily made changes to make certain parties suddenly compliant, even though currently they are not obeying the rules mentioned. Such a “moving of the goalposts” would be worrisome, because those parties that are complying with the rules that were clearly communicated at that session are then at a disadvantage.”
Gumbs had originally inquired about the official guidelines regulating what political parties were allowed to do while campaigning in the Monday session, only to be told there was still just a draft version.
“We are five days away from postulation, with no published guidelines and a wild, wild west approach from some regarding placement of political material on public land,” Gumbs concluded. “This does not bode well for our first general election since 2014 and I urge the Central Voting Bureau, the Minister of Justice, KPSM and the public to be aware of what has been communicated and what is being done. If you cannot trust people to obey simple campaign rules, it worries me for what they think of other, more pressing, rules and regulations.”
Cooks confirmed that the Party for Progress would be placing frames on private land leading up to November 22nd, which is allowed, and will commence with placing material on public land on Postulation Day, as was mentioned as part of the pending guidelines.