Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley has argued that the BVI cannot be made to institute Commission of Inquiry (COI) recommended reforms by force.
The Premier’s statement echoes sentiments expressed by several other legislators who have argued over the past few months that the BVI cannot, among other things, conduct constitutional reforms with a proverbial ‘gun to its head’.
Premier Wheatley, while appearing at a recent press conference, argued that everyone should be worried about the concept of the BVI’s constitution being suspended, particularly since it is a looming possibility.
“There was a recommendation from [Commissioner] Sir Gary Hickinbottom
that our constitution be suspended,” the premier said. “The concept has not been completely abandoned. Everybody should be concerned about it. But what we cannot do, we cannot be implementing reforms based on coercion or force. That’s something I reject completely.”
Premier Wheatley further expressed that he wanted to be ‘true to the process’ in going through the COI
-recommended reforms. “I want a dialogue with the people of the Virgin Islands
. I know that the people of the Virgin Islands
see areas that need to be reformed and they’ve needed to be reformed for a long time,” the Premier stated.
He added: “So, going through reform for me is not a challenge, it’s 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.”
In the meantime, the Premier urged that the BVI’s people must be educated about the needed reforms, arguing that they must be given the necessary information and must also be trusted to make the right decisions along the way.
Premier Wheatley added that residents must also communicate their wishes to their elected representatives who must in turn represent their views in Cabinet and in the House of Assembly.