While acknowledging the work of other coalition members within the Government of National Unity (GNU), Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley suggested that it was his incumbent Virgin Islands Party (VIP) that largely contributed to staving off a suspension of the territory’s constitution and ultimately, direct rule by the United Kingdom (UK).
It is this feat that allowed the Premier to confidently state that his government has shown that it could handle the relationship with the UK well enough to simultaneously strengthen the territory’s institutions and protect the rights of its residents and therefore deserved another stint at leading the territory.
“The Virgin Islands
Party is presenting a whole team of persons who can be relied on to do what has to be done to protect the interests of the people of the Virgin Islands
– including ensuring that our constitution is not suspended,” Premier Wheatley expressed.
Dr Wheatley assured residents that his party will continue to respect the rule of law and demonstrate accountability, transparency and good governance as it delivers progress for the people.
A damning Commission of Inquiry
) report issued at the end of April last year pushed for the controversial UK takeover as its first and overarching recommendation for facilitating badly needed governance reforms in the territory.
However, Premier Wheatley’s VIP joined forces with two other parties — the Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM) and the National Democratic Party (NDP) — to form the coalition GNU and agreed to a timetable to implement those reforms.
The UK signed up to the framework agreement for the reforms with the caveat that the COI
’s first recommendation could still be enforced quickly through a UK parliamentary Order in Council if these reforms were found to be deliberately delayed or obstructed in any way.
Premier Wheatley, in the meantime, explained that although the territory weathered the storm of direct UK rule with assistance from two other parties, the VIP is now seeking specific conditions from the electorate on the way forward.
“Now we’re seeking a clear mandate from the people of the Virgin Islands
[on] what administration they want to take, not only the reforms forward, but the governance of the territory as we chart a course for the next 15, 20 years. That’s what we’re asking for the people of the Virgin Islands
,” Dr Wheatley said.
He expressed that the coalition government has served its purpose in taking the territory towards elections and said some level of stability was also established in the process.
Premier Wheatley indicated that a date for the upcoming elections has not yet been decided but will be shared with the public once this has been done.
General Elections are constitutionally due by May 2023.