MP Tamara Leonard.


PHILIPSBURG--United Democrats (UD) Member of Parliament (MP) Tamara Leonard has pulled out of the race and will not be contesting the January 9, 2020, snap parliamentary elections.

  Leonard said on Monday that she desires, “a much-needed break from the political arena” at this time.

  The MP said the country is once again faced with its fourth election in five years. “As tired and demotivated as you are, so am I. I struggle with the reality of the fact that the trend of four elections in five years does not allow for much continuity and impedes on progress. Many were the promises I made to you since 2014 and many are the programmes I have worked on since 2014. It has been difficult to push through under these circumstances,” she said.

  She listed some of her key accomplishments as being the increase in maternity leave to 16 weeks; the establishment of a paternity leave of seven workdays and a meal programme for public schools for the 2019-2020 school year, which she said has been pushed back to 2020-2021. She said also that she has submitted a letter for an extension to the Minister of Finance and Minister of Education.

  “In addition to this, I have also fought for the rights of our men and women in blue, our teachers, ambulance personnel, nurses, fire fighters and other hardworking St. Maarteners. On different occasions over the years, I have voted with the opposition to pass motions and legislation that are in the best interest of our Country, with the latest being the Calibration Motion.”

  She also alluded to two draft amending legislations being worked on. One draft is currently being tweaked, after which it will be sent to the Council of Advice following which it is expected to be brought to the floor of Parliament for handling. Concerns in this draft amendment legislation are changes to the movie rating ordinance to better protect children. The second document was prepared on behalf of Leonard and was sent to government to carry out the further required steps that concerns the amendment of the national decree for drivers’ license to allow drivers’ license exams to be conducted in automatic transmission.

  She said also that an initiative will be submitted in the coming weeks to increase the maximum punishments for rape and decriminalizing abortions for medical purposes and rape.

  The MP expressed hope that she has been able to display passion and commitment to serve the public over the years. “At this time, however, I desire a much-needed break from the political arena and as such will not be contesting in the upcoming election. This is not a final goodbye, as I will continue to work, champion, advocate and defend the rights of my beloved people whether I am in an elected position, or as a dedicated member of the general public. I will be back in the near future God spare my life, in a better place so that I can once again put Country above self,” she said, noting that the United People’s (UP) party will have her “100 per cent support” in the upcoming election.