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Dutch parliamentarians support St. Eustatius' wish for referendum

SATURDAY, 02 NOVEMBER 2013

THE HAGUE–The liberal democratic VVD party and the Socialist Party in the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament support St. Eustatius’ coalition government in their desire to hold a constitutional referendum next year.

Statia has every right to organise a constitutional referendum, said Member of the Second Chamber André Bosman (VVD) on Friday. His colleague, Ronald van Raak (SP), has the same opinion. Bosman wants clarity from Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk on the matter.

Bosman said he was “not amused” when he read in Thursday’s edition of The Daily Herald that the Dutch government wanted to limit the scope of the 2015 general evaluation of the constitutional relation of Bonaire, Statia and Saba to the status of public entity or municipality.

The Statia delegation had fiercely objected to the two lines in a draft agreement that they received at the start of Caribbean Netherlands Week in The Hague on Monday. The lines basically stated that the direct ties of the three islands with the Netherlands would not be up for discussion in the evaluation.

The lines in question were subsequently removed from the agreement and on Thursday, October 31, Minister Plasterk announced that the islands and the Netherlands had agreed to install a high-level work group which, with the input of the islands, would determine the scope and content of the evaluation. Statia Commissioner Reginald Zaandam confirmed that a referendum will be held in Statia next year.

Member of Parliament (MP) Bosman fully supports a referendum. “The islands have all rights to choose what they want. Determining their constitutional future is their basic right. There cannot be any obstruction from the side of the Netherlands,” Bosman told The Daily Herald on Friday.

Bosman considered it “totally unacceptable” that The Hague unilaterally wants to decide the parameters of the evaluation. “I don’t want any parameters, any obstructions. St. Eustatius needs to have complete freedom to decide whether it wants to remain a Dutch public entity or not,” he said.

The MP said he was concerned that the work group would still decide to set parameters and that is why he wanted to get the confirmation from the minister that this would not happen. Bosman has requested time to pose verbal questions to Minister Plasterk during the meeting of Parliament this Tuesday.

If he isn’t granted that opportunity, he will request a debate on the issue. “And if the answers provided by the minister are not to my liking, I will still request a debate,” said Bosman, who already made clear in earlier debates that Statia has every right to hold a referendum.

MP Van Raak also supports a Statia referendum. He has said this several times already during debates in the Second Chamber. “The Statia people never voted for direct ties with the Netherlands. They should have a referendum,” he said in an invited comment.

According to Van Raak, the people come first in deciding their constitutional future. “It is up to the people to decide what they want. After that, it is the turn of the politicians. When the people speak, government keeps quiet and listens. St. Eustatius belongs to the Statia people and not to Plasterk. How dare the minister think that he can dictate Statia’s future,” he said.

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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