In a press conference today, October 7, 2022, the Premier lashed out against the concept of direct rule in the 21st century as the need to lead a resistance against forcing reform without the people of the VI and taking power and putting in the hands of those who are not elected.
“Everybody should be worried about the concept of our constitution being suspended because, of course, it's a reality… The Order in Council is there. There was a recommendation from Sir Gary Hickinbottom that our constitution be suspended. The concept has not been completely abandoned, everybody should be concerned about it,” he said.
Dr Wheatley added, “but what we cannot do… we cannot be implementing reforms based on coercion or force, that's something I reject completely. So when I go through this reform process, I'm being true to the process,” he said.
The Premier added that he wants to dialogue with the people of the Virgin Islands, as they see areas that need to be reformed for a long time.
Governor John J. Rankin, CMG on October 4, 2022, raised concerns over slow progress in some areas of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) reforms in the Virgin Islands (VI) under the “Framework for Implementation of the Recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry Report and Other Reforms” (“the Framework document”), being led by the Government of National Unity.
Premier Wheatley’s contention; however, is that the people of the VI must also be involved in the reform process and be informed of changes.
“Going through reform for me is not a challenge, is not a problem. I think it's the appropriate thing to do to reform, but we must reform based on what the people want to see, and of course, we have to educate people, we have to allow persons the opportunity to have a dialogue, we have to give them the information and trust them to make the right choice and to communicate that to their representatives,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Premier has spoken out that he remains completely against the concept of direct rule and suspension of the constitution in the VI as a flawed concept; however, he said he doesn’t believe the governor's concerns will lead to suspension of the constitution.
“I don't suspect that anything that has taken place thus far will lead to the suspension of the constitution if I had to give my opinion… but I'm saying even the concept of seeking to suspend our constitution is something I don't agree with and I think that we the people need to stand up and send a message,” Dr Wheatley added.
Dr Wheatley assured that without a doubt he will lead and continue leading the resistance against the flawed concept of suspending the constitution.
"And that's been happening already… there was a recommendation to suspend the Constitution and then we went into action and as you can see, it's not suspended, but that's not enough."
The Premier added, “to be coerced or forced into any type of action is unacceptable and that's something that I also will lead the resistance on,” he added while calling for the voice of the people in the process.