Acting PM of Virgin Islands slams UK decision as "draconian measure"
The decision will, according to Wheatley, take away many years of progress from the Islands.
After the UK decided to impose its ruling on the British Virgin Islands, concerns and anxieties rose regarding how the public might react to the illegitimate total acquisition of power following the arrest of the Islands' premier.
Just before Andrew Fahie, the prime minister of the Virgin Islands, appeared before a judge to deal with accusations and charges of drug trafficking and money laundering, British Judge Gary Hickinbottom quickly published a final report that recommended the UK dissolve the government, suspend the constitution, and impose direct rule for two years to begin.
“What this would mean in real terms is that there would no longer be elected representatives who represent the people of the districts and the territory in the house of assembly where laws are made for our society,” said Natalio Wheatley, the acting premier of the Islands.
The UK has already sent a foreign minister to take charge of the foreign affairs - Amanda Milling - who will be meeting the governor of the territory, James Rankin, in addition to other senior figures. Rankin was said to assume authority over the Islands' domestic policy and budgets. Milling and Rankin will be meeting to discuss the terms of the direct rule.
Wheatley acknowledged “very serious matters highlighted in the report, which spanned successive Administrations,” and did not question Rankin's authority and responsibility to maintain order.
However, what he did contend is that the reforms may still be achieved without fully suspending the constitution, especially under already existing emergency powers.
He said, "I urge you the public to read the report with an objective eye in terms of strengthening our systems of Government under a democratic framework of governance, as opposed to draconian measures that would set back the historical constitutional progress we have made as a people."
The commission that Hickinbottom established in 2021 addressed claims of corruption, wasteful government spending, and drug trafficking. London, according to the Guardian, was aware of the undercover investigation and scurried to publish right away Hickinbottom's report of a thousand pages, just after Fahie was arrested.
The British Virgin Islands are divided between the UK, the US, and the US territory of Puerto Rico. The Islands have had some sort of "self-governance" since 2007 under a new constitution, but the territory remains appointed as one of the British overseas territories.