Former colony resists direct UK rule — Analysis
The British Virgin Islands’ acting premier says ‘draconian measures’ would undermine the ‘historical constitutional progress’
Acting premier for the British Virgin Islands, has expressed deep concern “concerns”London plans to take direct control of the Caribbean territory after its leader was arrested in a US drug operation. A highly critical report on alleged corruption is also available.
On Friday, shortly before the premier of the British Virgin Islands, Andrew Fahie, appeared before a US judge on charges of cocaine smuggling and money laundering, a commission of inquiry led by Judge Sir Gary Hickinbottom hurriedly published its final report, urging the UK to dissolve the islands’ elected government, suspend their constitution, and impose direct rule for at least two years.
“What this would mean in real terms is that there would no longer be elected representatives who represent the people of the districts and the territory in the house of assembly where laws are made for our society,” said Natalio Wheatley, who assumed the post of acting premier after Fahie’s arrest.
London sent Amanda Milling (a Foreign Office minister) to the territory in order to discuss terms of direct rule with James Rankin, the Governor of the Territory, and other high-ranking figures. A formal decision is expected next week.
Recognized as acting premier of BVI “very serious matters highlighted in the report, which spanned successive Administrations,” and did not question the British Crown representative’s authority and responsibility to maintain order – but said the proposed reforms “can be achieved without the partial or full suspension of the constitution,”Under already-existing emergency powers.
It is my request that the public reads the report carefully, with an eye toward strengthening the systems of government within a democratic framework. This will help to avoid imposing harsh measures on our historical progress as citizens.
Hickinbottom’s commission was established in 2021, amid claims of corruption and wasteful government spending – as well as rumors that the island leadership was engaging in drug trafficking. The Guardian reports that the British government knew about the US undercover investigation and made a decision to investigate. “rush out”Fahie was eventually arrested and the Hickinbottom report, which is 1,000 pages long, was released.
The Virgin Islands were named by Christopher Columbus and are split between the United Kingdom, America, and Puerto Rico. Since 2002, 35,000 BVI citizens have been British citizens. They enjoy limited self-government under the constitution of 2007, but the island chain is still officially classified as an overseas territory of the British Crown, which was established before 1983.
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