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Cabinet says no to judges advice

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Cabinet says no to judges advice

PHILIPSBURG--Prime Minister Marcel responded with a resounding “no” when asked if his cabinet will adhere to any advice issued by the “special panel of judges” put in place by Governor Eugene Holiday to render an advice on the impasse between the Coalition of Eight in Parliament and the cabinet.

“We are going to resign when the decree is signed by the governor,” Gumbs maintained.

At the sporadic Council of Ministers Press Conference, held on Wednesday before the governor made his advice public [see related story], Gumbs was asked if the cabinet would comply with any advice via the governor. He said the governor has only two options when it comes to the draft decree submitted by the cabinet to dissolve Parliament – to sign it or send it to the Dutch Kingdom Council of Ministers for annulment.

The governor has no role outside of those two options, he said. “Any other avenue that is being sought or compromised, we will not accept. You know why, because we cannot continue accepting compromises where it concerns our Constitution. [If compromises are made] then you might as well take the Constitution, shred it and put it in the garbage.”

“The court [judges] has nothing to do with this. The Constitution is there … Judges are not experts in constitutional law,” said Gumbs, who, along with his cabinet, has held fast to advice from two professors of constitutional law that have said the cabinet is in the right.

Seeking advice on whether the cabinet is constitutionally right to move to dissolve Parliament or whether the September 30 motion of no confidence by the Coalition of Eight against the cabinet takes preference is not the governor’s purview, Gumbs said.

Gumbs said he has ministerial responsibility for the actions of the governor and is taking precautions against any hiccups. He said, “Based on the Constitution, the governor cannot act solely on his own; somebody has to carry the ministerial responsibility.”

Faced with calls for his cabinet’s resignation in face of the September 30 motion, Gumbs said his cabinet has not refused to resign rather the ministers have been very clear about their stance. “We will resign when the decree is signed,” he said.

The decree calls for dissolving of Parliament and the holding of a snap election by the end of January 2016. The Coalition of Eight is not in favour of the decree, preferring to have the cabinet, supported by the now crumpled United People’s (UP) party-led coalition, to resign and make way for new ministers.

The governor, before turning to the panel of three judges, the Joint Court of the Dutch Caribbean and St. Maarten’s Constitutional Court, had indicated that there was nothing preventing the Coalition of Eight from forming a new government. The current parliamentary term started in September 2014.

The cabinet had requested the governor to get the advice from the panel of judges “in three days” instead of five working days as he originally announced on Friday. Gumbs did not make it clear why the cabinet asked for the advice to be sped up when its stance is not to comply with the contents.

Gumbs referred to the impasse between his cabinet and the Coalition of Eight in Parliament as a “constitutional crisis” and not a “political” one, because the impasse is based on the Constitution.

Gumbs, referring to a letter written in 2013 by then Deputy Prime Minister, now leader of the Coalition of Eight William Marlin, said Marlin told the governor in that letter, the then Cabinet would resign “after” the governor signed a decree to dissolve Parliament. “We are doing nothing different,” said Gumbs.

Source: the daily herald



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