January 19, 2002

10 parties win seats in Netherlands Antilles parliament

                 WILLEMSTAD, Curacao (AP) -- Ten parties won seats in the Netherlands
                 Antilles' 22-membe r parliament, according to final elections results, leaving
                 the winners to negotiate leadership of the next coalition government.

                 With all of the more than 81,000 votes counted Saturday, the Restructured Antilles
                 Party of retiring Prime Minister Miguel Pourier kept four seats under new leader
                 Etienne Ys.

                 The opposition Workers Liberation Front party, led by Anthony Godett, won five
                 seats in Friday's vote -- more than any other party. "We are willing to work with all
                 the parties," said Nelson Monte, a party leader.

                 The party was kicked out of the last coalition government in July after Godett
                 clashed publicly with other members.

                 Negotiations to form a new government are expected to begin next week in the
                 Netherlands Antilles, a federation made up of five Dutch islands or jurisdictions in
                 the Caribbean.

                 The negotiations are expected to last at least few weeks.

                 The most important parties are based in Curacao, by far the most populous with
                 more than 150,000 people. Curacao elected 14 legislators to the parliament. Bonaire,
                 and St. Maarten, which shares an island with French St. Martin, each elect three
                 legislators. St. Eustatius and Saba each elect one.

                 The elections focused largely on the government's Dutch-sanctioned negotiations
                 with the International Monetary Fund, which led to budget-slashing and job cuts.

                 Pourier slashed the government payroll by 30 percent.

                 Critics of his government argue the IMF is making too many demands, and the
                 Dutch are too reluctant to give assistance. Supporters point to growth in tourism
                 and oil refineries as economic bright spots.

                 Pourier, who was also prime minister from 1994 to 1998, stepped in and took over
                 the new government in 1999 when Prime Minister Suzy Camelia-Romer, of the
                 People's National Party, resigned and disbanded her Cabinet over disagreements on
                 how to reduce debt.

                 The People's National Party, a Pourier coalition partner, captured three seats, while
                 the Labor Party of union leader Errol Cova won two. The official results are
                 expected next week.

                 In Bonaire, the Patriotic Union party under businessman Ramonsito Booi carried
                 two seats. Jopi Abraham's Democratic Party of Bonaire won one.

                 In St. Maarten, a proposal to pull out of the Netherlands Antilles was an important
                 issue, with each party promising they would bring change the fastest.

                 In a 1999 referendum, a majority of voters chose to have St. Maarten negotiate its
                 own relationship with the Netherlands. The Dutch parliament must approve any
                 change, but has not done so.

                 Sarah Wescott Williams's St. Maarten Democratic Party captured two seats. The
                 National Alliance of William Marlin took one.

                 Saba's seat went to Ray Hassel's Windward Island People's Party. The St. Eustatius
                 seat was won by Nora Sneek Gibbs of the Statia Democratic Party.

                  Copyright 2002 The Associated Press.