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September 19, 2017

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Ex-Curacao PM claims coup,

KINGSTON, Jamaica -- Curacao's former leader was holed up Sunday inside what used to be his official offices, accusing the acting governor of overstepping her constitutional powers by forming an interim government three weeks before general elections on the Dutch Caribbean island.

But the Dutch government said in a statement that former Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte's administration was legally replaced and urged the interim government to make sure the run up to the Oct. 19 election and the vote itself run smoothly.

Schotte dissolved parliament and called elections after his government lost its legislative majority on Aug. 3. Then Acting Governor Adeel van der Pluijm-Vrede swore in a new administration to replace Schotte's on Saturday, something he called a bloodless "coup." Schotte insisted there should have been no changes until the election in which he plans to run again as leader of the Curacao Future Movement.

"The reality is that this is a coup because they have no constitutional basis to do this. There is some hidden agenda to stop the election or manipulate the election," Schotte told The Associated Press Sunday by telephone from the prime minister's offices, where he said he slept on a sofa overnight. Several supporters have joined him in the government house in Willemstad, he said.

Schotte is seeking support from regional governments including Venezuela, 35 miles (56 kilometers) away. Meanwhile, he's been sending "the message to everyone to stay relaxed."

In Curacao's colorful capital of Willemstad, some citizens dismissed Schotte's claims of a "coup" as political gamesmanship ahead of the vote. Most people went about their normal business, some heading to church while others frolicked at the beach or rested at home.

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