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Theo Heyliger to take seat in St. Maarten parliament


PHILIPSBURG–The way has been paved for the highest vote getter of the 2010 general election to once again have an active role in the governing of the country. United People’s (UP) party leader/former Deputy Prime Minister Theo Heyliger will take the oath as a Member of Parliament (MP) in the coming days.

UP MP Dr. Ruth Douglass has resigned from Parliament with immediate effect on Tuesday. She is said to be moving on to another post suited to her medical background.

President of Parliament Gracita Arrindell has already submitted notice of Dr. Douglass’ resignation and the need to fill the vacant seat in Parliament to Governor Eugene Holiday, Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and the Main Voting Bureau.

It is now up to Parliament to vet Heyliger’s credentials and accept them once he has handed in all the necessary paper work. Following that, Governor Holiday will be informed and Heyliger will be sworn in.

The process is not expected to be a lengthy one and should only take a matter of days as was the case with the return of National Alliance (NA) leader MP William Marlin in early September. The day after Marlin’s credentials were accepted by Parliament, he was attending his first meeting. He was sworn in by the Governor the same day his credentials were accepted.

Heyliger was the highest overall vote getter of the 2010 elections as well as the highest vote getter of the UP slate. He opted to serve as a Minister in the UP/Democratic Party/Illidge coalition in 2010. He resigned in May 2012 when that coalition lost it support in Parliament. Since then, he has not held an elected or an appointed position in government.

Based on the country’s electoral regulations, when an MP resigns, the vacated seat goes to the highest vote getter from that MP’s party who is not already serving in the executive or legislative branch. In the case of UP, that person is Heyliger.

There had been talk in the community just before Marlin’s infamous “Mexican standoff” and the Wescot-Williams III Cabinet taking office that Heyliger would return to active politics as an MP. That talk was centred on Dr. Douglass resigning from Parliament to take up a job outside of St. Maarten. No confirmation was ever given by the MP.

The first option for him to return did not pan out when independent MP Romain Laville did not pass the screening to become a Minister. Laville’s agreement with the current UP/DP/Laville coalition was that he would resign as an MP once sworn in as a Minister.

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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