Oranjestad, St. Eustatius- Government Commissioners Marcolino (Mike) Franco and Mervy Stegers will, on a relatively short term, be replaced by two new commissioners, Marnix van Reij and Alida Francis.
According to a press statement from RCN, Franco and Stegers have made important contributions over the past two years. However, increasingly criticism could also be heard about the lack of transparency and communication. A motivation for the change of the two Government Commissioners has not been provided.
An opinion published this morning in Antilliaans Dagblad, written by dr. Willem Cicilia, especially criticized the functioning of the so-called advisory council. According to Cicilia, who is an expert in constitutional affairs of especially the BES-islands, the Council had been put together based on unclear criteria, and meetings of the body are not transparent.
With the installation of Francis as deputy Government Commissioner appointed by The Hague, local government on the island will at least regain an important local element.
Marnix van Rij was a member of the Senate from June 9th, 2015 to June 4th, 2019. Until mid-2019 he was a partner at Ernst & Young tax advisors. In his latest position, he was a strategic advisor for the Ministry of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations for Caribisch Nederland.
The new Commisioners will assume their new role on February 15, 2020.
St. Eustatius is still highly divided between proponents and opponents of the Dutch intervention. While proponents point to several positive developments on the island, such as the erosion prevention and the construction of the new airport, others point to the fact that democracy on The Golden Rock has been all but abolished and that results from the intervention are not as clear as previously hoped. A tangible issue with which little progress has been made is urgent repairs of the public roads on the island.
Recently a route map was disclosed by The Hague for a gradual return to full democracy on the island, although there are still many question marks about the timeline and the fact that initial elections will still lead to very limited representation in the Island Council.