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Curaçao IC ratifies
November 2 accord

~ Meeting was disrupted by bomb hoax ~
WILLEMSTAD--The Curaçao Island Council agreed to the November 2, 2006, final statement early Saturday morning. The resolution to ratify the final statement as proposed by the Executive Council was passed by twelve votes to seven.

Coalition partners PAR, PNP and FOL as well as opposition party DP voted in favour. Forsa Kòrsou Island Council member Gregory Damoen, although present at the meeting, abstained from voting, while the MAN, NPA and PS political factions voted against.

The decision to ratify the final statement came after a very tumultuous meeting that lasted 17 hours and was interrupted for nearly three hours by a bomb hoax that forced a change in venue from the Island Council to the Parliament Building.

An estimated 200 demonstrators against the final statement, most of them PS activists, stirred up a lot of commotion outside the Island Council early Friday. They carried signs placards stating: “The people have chosen, please respect that.” They also wore mourning bands around their arms and heads and shouted that it would be a shame if the final statement were approved.

The protest targeted especially the FOL party that voted against the final statement last year, but this time around voted in favour. FOL Island Council Member Renfred Rojer even urged all the political factions to approve the final statement. “At this moment there is plenty of room to discuss the points of interest with the Netherlands. Let us vote in the interest of the people of Curaçao,” he said.

Inside the meeting, all was relatively calm until approximately 6:00pm when Chairwoman of the Island Council Lt. Governor Lizanne Richards-Dindial had one visitor removed from the public gallery because he was making loud comments during the meeting.

About one hour later, the Lt. Governor received notification of a bomb threat. She promptly adjourned the meeting and had the Island Council building evacuated.

The police transported the Island Council members from the Island Council to Parliament Building where the meeting resumed at approximately 10:00pm. This time nobody was allowed to access the public gallery.

Several Island Council Members, including Gimena van der Gen (PNP) and Remco Gomez (PAR), expressed their disgust about the bomb threat, calling it an act against democracy and an act of terrorism.

MAN leader and Island Council member Charles Cooper was one of the few who refused to refer to the demonstrators as terrorists and said they had the right to protest against what they saw as a great injustice.

It wasn’t until 2:45am that the Lt. Governor officially closed the meeting, by which time the Island Council had debated two resolutions.

The first resolution proposed the ratification of the November 2, 2006, final statement that had been rejected by the Island Council in November 2006. The second resolution dealt with a series of instructions to the Executive Council about what were referred to as problem points that should be debated with the Kingdom partners in the near future.

Before the meeting even started, it was already clear that a majority in the Island Council would accept both resolutions. All three coalition partners had made a firm agreement to support the resolutions.

Surprisingly, DP Island Council Member Norbert George also voted in favour of ratifying the final statement, saying afterwards that as far as he could verify, the politicians had gotten the maximum out of the political consultation at the Spaanse Hof in The Hague last year.

During the meeting, Constitutional Affairs Commissioner Zita Jesus-Leito urged the Island Council Members to ratify the final statement so Curaçao could once more be part of the constitutional change process. The opposition parties had problems with the request and pointed out that in November 2006 the Island Council had already rejected the same final statement.

PS Island Council Member Helmin Wiels announced that he would start a court proceeding to annul the second decision of the Island Council. Ratifying the final statement, Wiels said, could have legal consequences for all involved.

However, Jesus-Leito did not share Wiels’ point of view. She said the final statement was neither a law nor a legal document, but rather a series of agreements made at the end of a consultation among Kingdom partners.

She stressed that the November 2, 2006, final statement was not the final document of the constitutional change process, but a document that should lead to a Round Table Conference in which final agreements would be made about the future constitutional status for Curaçao.

After the final statement was ratified, the Island Council also agreed to the second resolution. However, several Island Council members had difficulties with the fact that the resolution proposed that the Executive Council and not the Permanent Committee on Constitutional Affairs of the Island Council should determine the framework for future negotiations with the Netherlands.

Cooper said such a decision went against all rules and laws and obstructed the authority of the Island Council. Cooper said the MAN party would go to court to challenge the decision.

However, the resolution was passed with 11 votes in favour and eight against. Coalition parties PAR, FOL and PNP voted in favour while the DP, MAN, NPA and PS parties voted against.

Island Council members Nelson Pierre (NPA) and Gregory Damoen (Forsa Kòrsou) did not vote on Saturday. Pierre wasn’t present in the meeting due to illness and Damoen abstained from voting because he did not agree with the procedures followed.

He asked the Executive Council whether there were guarantees that the Netherlands would renegotiate certain issues. He wasn’t given any concrete guarantees, but Jesus-Leito pointed out a recent letter from Dutch State Secretary of Kingdom Relations Ank Bijleveld-Schouten in which she proposed a transition accord with Curaçao, similar to the February 12 transition accord signed with St. Maarten and the Central Government.

“To reach a transition accord we have to negotiate,” Leito said.

Copyright ©2006 The Daily Herald St. Maarten
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