The governor of the island territory of St. Maarten, Franklyn E. Richards, has called on Commissioner Louie Laveist to live up this responsibility and tender his resignation as a member of the executive council of St. Maarten.

Richards did so in a letter addressed to Laveist, in keeping with his position of chairman of the executive council and gatekeeper of good governance.

In the letter, Governor Richards refers to past correspondence by Laveist. By letter of November 6, 2008, addressed to leader of the ruling DP faction, Commissioner Sarah Wescot-Williams, Laveist had indicated that he will be a non-active member of the executive council and that he would be an independent member of the island council.

By letter of November 10, 2008, Laveist signed three letters, indicating to the governor of the island territory that he was withdrawing his support for his DP faction, that he would be taking a non-active role in the Executive and that he would be an independent member of the island council.

On November 16, 2008, the governor, in his capacity of chairman of the island council, received a letter, signed by all DP members in the island council, voicing support for the St. Maarten executive council, comprised of DP commissioners Maria Buncamper-Molanus, Theodore Heyliger, Roy Marlin and Sarah Wescot-Williams.

With the 6 signatures appearing on the letter, it can be argued that the executive council has a majority support in the island council. 

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It is the opinion of the governor that the letter of November 16, 2008, also signed by Commissioner Laveist, voicing support for the 4-member executive council, did not take into consideration commissioner Laveist.

As chairman and member of the executive council himself, Governor Richards is not quite sure what to make of the letter of November 16, 2008. This in view of the earlier decision taken by Laveist to withdraw his support for his DP faction and announcement that he considers himself a non active member of the executive council.

The chairman refers to the fact that it is the island council which appoints and dismisses members of the executive council.

The island council has, as of this date, not dismissed Mr. Laveist as member of the executive council while the latter has not tendered his resignation as such.

This would mean that the executive council is, at present, comprised of six members, including the governor as chairman of the council. Because Laveist remains a member of the executive council, his presence is required to form a quorum and he does have voting right. This remains so, even in light of his claiming to enjoy a non-active status and his not attending meetings of the executive council. This situation is then in conflict with the correspondence of November 16.

Separate from all of the aforementioned considerations, it is not in the best interest that Mr. Laveist retains all the perks and privileges associated with being a commissioner. This while explicitly indicating in the November 16, 2008 correspondence not to wish to continue serving as commissioner but instead adopting a non-active role.

The present situation creates uncertainty and affects transparency in government, which is damaging to the image of the government of St. Maarten and is, above all else, not in the general interest of the people of St. Maarten.


Again referring to the November 16, 2008 letter signed by Laveist, the governor of the island territory is of the opinion that the only tangible approach would be that Laveist tenders his resignation as commissioner.

This since the claimed status of non active member of the executive council is not in accordance with the island regulations of the Netherlands Antilles (ERNA).

The function of commissioner is one which requires that content be given to the position. It does take into consideration occasions whereby one is unable to be present. These are not applicable in the case of Mr. Laveist.

Governor Richards emphasizes that commissioners hold a public function and as such ought to serve the general interest, at all times.

The present situation however does just the opposite.

The executive council has in the meantime decided to redistribute the portfolios formerly assigned to commissioner Laveist. This followed his detention and correspondence from justice authorities addressed to the chairman of the island council, indicating among others, that Laveist is the subject of a criminal investigation.

With all of the abovementioned in mind, the governor has addressed Laveist exclusively on his position in the executive council and not as member of the island council.

The governor, as is known, does not interfere with matters which resort under the competency of the island council, such as composition of the executive council.

In the interest of good governance, an urgent appeal has been made by governor Richards to Mr. Laveist, to tender his resignation, thereby showing that he takes his responsibilities seriously, and which would end the present unwarranted situation, construed as contrary to our democratic principles.

Governor Richards has requested Mr. Laveist to react to his urgent appeal within a week’s time.

Copies of the letter have been sent to His Excellency the governor of the Netherlands Antilles, to members of the island council and to members of the Executive Council.

Governor Richards reiterates for clarity sake that justice must be allowed to take its course, also in the case involving Mr. Laveist. He too, has a right to the premise of "presumptio innocentiae", innocent until proven guilty.