Dutch media has reported that the prime minister (PM) of The Netherlands’ Caribbean constituent Sint Maarten (or Dutch St. Martin), William Marlin, has vacated the position. He will be replaced by his deputy and justice minister Rafael Boasman.
PM Marlin’s resignation resulted from discord relating to conditions stipulated for the release of $656 million in relief aid to the Caribbean province. The Netherlands reportedly requested an agreement to transparency and accountability regarding the usage of the allotted funds, prior to it being released.
The conditions, which required that Sint Maarten’s government set up monitoring systems, aimed to safeguard the funds. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte had harsh words for Marlin in Oct., for refusing to agree to the conditions.
“We took this decision because we want to start rebuilding (Dutch) Saint Martin, a process which is now being jeopardized by these developments,” Rutte said. “The Netherlands is ready to help, but everybody has to stick to the democratic rules of the game.”
“We have decided to ask St Martin’s governor to ensure that its prime minister is relieved of his position and replaced,” Rutte said referring to The Netherlands and the Rijksministerraad.
Marlin rejected the special “integrity” chamber, which would be put in place to oversee the spending of the relief fund as well as stem corruption.
“As far as we’re concerned, the prime minister has acted unconstitutionally by refusing to resign after its parliament accepted the no-confidence motions,” Rutte explained.
The Rijksministerraad oversees the kingdom of the Netherlands; Aruba, Curacao and St Martin sit on a combined council.
On Friday, Rutte announced that the funds would be made available, including an additional $80 million earmarked for Dutch municipalities Saba and Saint Eustatius.
“It’s really urgent that reconstruction should start as soon as possible,” he said.
The former Dutch St. Martin leader had also refused to demit office on multiple occasions: including after two no-confidence votes as well as pressure from The Netherlands.
Marlin accused The Hague of orchestrating a “political conspiracy” to oust him.
Approximately 70 percent of the infrastructure on the island was devastated by Hurricane Irma’s passage in September, but parliamentary elections are tentatively slated for February.
France and the Netherlands share the island of Saint Martin.