In describing some of the principles proposed, Opposition Leader said they made very strong advocacy that continued democratic representation is a fundamental right for the citizens of the Virgin Islands which must be preserved.
The Opposition Leader said the meeting was based on averting a national crisis and protecting the best interests of the people of the territory.
“We also stressed that maintaining an elected government for an interim period, but with restrictions, is consistent with achieving key objectives of the COI Report. We were firm in the position that implementing the recommendations of the COI Report must not obstruct the operations of government – direct rule would just do this,” Penn said.
He noted the Opposition was concerned that if government operations are substantially impeded and an atmosphere of uncertainty and general discord among the population are allowed to fester, then this would have a detrimental impact on the function of this territory.
“This could have an immediate and direct impact on the economy, hamper the provision of essential services and continuation of important infrastructural and other projects and overall development of our territory. The members of the government were also united on some of these positions and made similar representation to the Minister,” the Opposition Leader added.
Penn said both the Opposition and government agreed to the proposal of having a continued ministerial government under a different complexion. He said the interim government would be structured among a cross-section of the different parties represented in the House of Assembly.
“A formation would, among other things, allow for the continuity of government operations and continuity for representation of the voice of the people and participation of Virgin Islanders in our own affairs,” he said.
“Our meetings with Minister Milling were constructive and fruitful. To be clear, what we will implement is a partnership with the government. Under this temporary agreement, as you heard, two ministerial posts would be appointed to the Opposition members, and I am pleased and humbled to have your trust and faith to take up the post as Minister of Health,” Penn continued.
He said during this period, the coalition expects that structures for implementing the other recommendations of the inquiry, including a constitutional review would be put in place.
“Very importantly, this period for the continued ministerial government will allow for a democratic election in a timeframe in which they are constitutionally due,” the Opposition Leader said.
“Fellow Virgin Islanders, I hope it is clear to you that all our suggestions, efforts, negotiations and compromise to form this temporary government has made a singular purpose that is to preserve our democracy so your voices could be heard,” he added.
Penn noted the democracy of the territory is primary and essential in ensuring that all other COI recommendations are pursued and implemented in the best interest of the BVI people.