The prime minister of Curacao says the attempt by the island’s governor to kick him out of office 21 days before new elections is “unconstitutional” and a coup.
"There is no democratic answer," Gerrit Schotte told The Miami Herald by telephone at 11 p.m. Saturday from within the walls of his office compound on the Dutch-speaking Caribbean island.
Schotte said he was locked inside the compound with about 20 other individuals, including members of his Cabinet, senators and others. He did not know how long they would remain but said the "the guy who says he is PM" had given orders to the police to go in.
Police, he said, had refused.
The drama unfolded 4:30 p.m. Saturday when an interim government was sworn in by the Holland-appointed governor. Elections have been scheduled for Oct. 19.
"Why are they trying to get in power?" Schotte said. "Everything indicates they are trying to stop the elections."
Interim Prime Minister Stanley Bertrain was sworn in at the Governor’s Palace by acting Gov. Adeerl van der Plujim-Vrede.
Schotte, 38, has been in office for 23 months. But after his government lost its majority and was forced to resign, the country has been in a parliamentary crisis.
On Sept. 13, a majority of parliamentarians asked the governor to name an interim government. The legality of the move has been questioned, with Schotte saying it’s an "unconstitutional act."
Non-Schotte supporters have denied in the press that there is a coup.
Schotte has urged the island’s 150,000 citizens including those protesting outside the walls to remain calm, he said.
"I don’t need this," he said. "But I want to get a message out. He doesn’t have the authority to make a new government."