29 November 2011

French Préfet in St. Martin criticized for exceeding authority

Mussington against the Préfet chairing commission meeting

Daily Herald (Sint Maarten)

MARIGOT--Movement for the Advancement of the People (MAP) leader Louis Mussington said Tuesday he was firmly against Préfet Jacques Simonnet chairing the upcoming joint mixed commission meeting now scheduled for December 3. French Minister for Overseas Territories Marie-Luce Penchard is expected to be in St. Martin for the inauguration of the meeting.

"I cannot accept under Article 74 that the Préfet is calling the shots on this one," said Mussington. "I've always been a strong advocate of north side south side cooperation and that's why I joined the discussion on status change in Paris. I was very insistent that we have the political authority to discuss issues with our Dutch side counterparts without interference from the State's representative."

"Article LO-6352 clearly states professional training, economic development, social development, infrastructure development, tourism, transportation etc, all fall within our Collectivité's competences. So I cannot accept that he is leading a delegation. It is not his area of competence. In my opinion he should be playing a supportive role and not a leading role."

Mussington added he wanted to make his point because he does not want the new Préfet to assume this is the normal way of doing things.

"I believe President Frantz Gumbs and Senator Fleming have failed in their mission to show leadership and assume responsibilities and play their role efficiently. There is a great need for north-south cooperation, yes, but everyone must assume their roles accordingly."

He continued: "What is under the State's jurisdiction such as security, immigration, and health matters, falls under the Préfet's responsibility but the buck stops there. People are not sensing a real change because the State is conducting meetings for us. We need to be acting more responsibly and acting as though we really are in charge."

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