Beautiful Virgin Islands

Saturday, Jan 28, 2023

A return from UK takeover will be hard without constitutional reform

A return from UK takeover will be hard without constitutional reform

If the UK was to take over, a return to ministerial government and the House of Assembly (HOA) after the proposed two-year period would be “challenging“ without constitutional reform being established.
This is according to Sir Gary Hickinbottom who — after presiding over a year-long Commission of Inquiry (COI) exercise in the BVI — recommended in his follow-up report that the territory’s ministerial government be halted for at least two years and for the governor to lead the BVI with the support of an Advisory Council in the interim.

Considering the challenge he anticipates when the ministerial government is handed back the reins, Sir Gary proposed that work on the constitutional review begin urgently and be concluded promptly.

“Whilst I know that such reviews often take longer, I propose that the constitutional review commences as soon as possible and concludes its business within a year, with the Governor having the ability to extend that time by no longer than six months,“ Sir Gary said.

In his report, Sir Gary further said this early and speedy review would be to ensure that abuses such as the ones he identified did not recur.

He further recommended that the constitution should enable the people of the BVI to meet their aspirations, including those concerning self-government within the context of modern democracy.

“That will require a constitution that is sufficiently robust to ensure adherence to the principles of good governance within government, but also enables the progressive development of the BVI‘s own political institutions,“ Sir Gary said.

The last constitutional review was held in 2006 and led to the 2007 constitution being implemented.

According to Sir Gary, the COI has demonstrated that the current constitution cannot take the weight it has to bear.

He said that even though there may have been significant differences in the reasons for this, no one has suggested that the current constitution is working.

The UK is yet to decide on whether to follow Sir Gary’s recommendation of imposing temporary direct rule over the BVI. The Dr Natalio Wheatley-led National Unity Government — a cross-partisan administration formed to placate the UK — has since submitted an alternative proposal to direct rule. Britain is currently considering it.

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