Beautiful Virgin Islands

Thursday, Mar 23, 2023

Blame the gov! Investigations, rifts stem from old tensions — Fraser

Blame the gov! Investigations, rifts stem from old tensions — Fraser

Opposition Leader Julian Fraser said he blames the former United Kingdom governor for the tension arising over the issue of who held responsibility for the territory’s security during the height of COVID-19 three years ago.
That tension is one of several underlying issues surrounding a recently released audit report and the Third District Representative suggested it is what ultimately led to the BVI’s Commission of Inquiry (COI).

As the territory navigated periods of lockdown and curfews, then-Premier Andrew Fahie pushed for the deployment of radar platforms perched on barges to be used as surveillance mechanisms which were expected to detect and deter illegal entry into the BVI.

This was done despite strong protests coming from other members of the National Security Council (NSC).

Back then, Fahie declined the offer of free assistance from the United Kingdom government presented by then-governor Augustus Jaspert to have the HMS Medway patrol the BVI’s waters.

Fraser in the meantime, described the experience of the former governor immediately after the 2017 hurricanes as a sense of power the governor never had before.

“When COVID came, [Jaspert] saw it, he smelt it. He felt it, but he just didn’t get it,” Fraser said in the House of Assembly recently. “He didn’t get it because the laws of the Virgin Islands were adequate enough to protect the sitting government from being subjected to such conditions… So right away, this competition started to build, this tension started to build.”

Fraser told his fellow lawmakers that the debate on the audit report for radar platforms used during COVID-19 was not important to him, but rather he was more interested in the bigger question of constitutional responsibility which was reposed in the Governor’s Office.

Governor will pull the last punch

According to the constitution, the governor holds responsibility for the territory’s internal and external security.

However, Fraser questioned how things got to the stage of a conflict over who had the ultimate responsibility at the end of the day for the barges being deployed.

“I blame the governor. I do,” Fraser said.

“So all of this, this war and tussle between the governor and the Premier led us to where we are today,” Fraser argued. “All these Commission of Inquiry, people came here and they start digging under tree roots, looking under your house. This is where it all started.

The Third District Representative said he wasn’t defending anyone, but insisted that “if people out there believe that it’s over”, they were likely mistaken.

“It’s not finished. It’s not over. So we have to come to grips with the fact that those are the realities. And if you’re going to have tension between the governor and the premier, somebody is going to pull the last punch, and I think the governor would always be the one to pull the last punch,” Fraser argued.

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