photo: The Daily Herald | Althea Merkman

ORANJESTAD – Acting Governor Julian Woodley must sign the democratically elected decisions of the two-member executive board of St. Eustatius. This was the ruling of the court in the short trial that was imposed by Government leaders Charles Woodley and Derrick Simmons against the governor.

For some time now there has not been much back and forth between the Executive Council, which consists of Progressive Labor Party (PLP) and Independent Councilor Reuben Merkman, and Governor Woodley, who was a politician on the opposition Democratic Party (DP).

As governor, Woodley refused to ratify numerous decisions taken by the Executive Council. Following the decision of the short case, he must now do this for several cases. This concerns the decision to suspend the harbor master, an agreement on waste separation, and the approval of an official visit to The Hague. In addition, Woodley must also cosign a letter addressed to Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk.

The judge did not find it necessary for the governor to sign an agreement with the oil company NuStar Statia Terminal on port charges and pilotage services, because a new agreement is currently being worked out.

According to the Court, there is no legal basis on which the Acting Governor may refuse signing legally made decisions by the Executive Council. In cases where he considers decisions to be unlawful, he may submit the decisions via the Kingdom Representative to the Dutch government for prohibition, according to the Court, which did not impose any penalty payments. The governor however will have to cover the cost of the process.

Governor Woodley said he will respect the decision of the judge. He will sign majority of decisions and declare resolutions for prohibition if in his opinion there is conflict with the law or public interest.

History books
While deeming this judicial verdict as one for the history books Commissioner Simmons said the conflict with the governor did not have to come to this extent. Attorney Jason Rogers, who assisted the Commissioners in the judicial process, expressed his satisfaction with the court’s decision.

“By failing to sign, the governor caused stagnation in the governing of the island. This is considered disobliging to his duties and obligations as stipulated in the Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba Law (WolBES). We stated this at the hearing,” said Rogers.

Despite the short trial, the Commissioners, according to their lawyer, state that this case was “in the interests of the island” and are open to cooperation with the Acting Governor.