Governor John Rankin has attempted to put to bed swirling rumours that the United Kingdom (UK) will prevent the BVI from holding its upcoming general elections which are due by May 2023.
Several lawmakers have claimed for months that the BVI’s constitution will be suspended and its general elections denied in the wake of last year’s damning Commission of Inquiry
) report on governance in the territory.
The claims have continued to fuel speculation among residents that they will not have an opportunity to elect leaders at the upcoming polls, but Rankin said those claims have no basis.
“I have seen the speculation that, somehow or another, elections will be prevented by myself or by the United Kingdom government. Nothing could be further from the truth,” the governor told reporters at a press conference yesterday. “And that speculation, as far as I’m concerned, has no basis whatsoever.”
Since the release of the COI
report, the UK has held an Order in Council in its parliament that would trigger a suspension of the BVI’s constitutional order and threatens to implement direct rule if the territory does not enact agreed governance reforms.
Some lawmakers have seized upon this and insisted that the Order in Council needs to be lifted or the threat of direct UK rule will be implemented whether those reforms are carried out or not.
Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley had also engaged in talks with UK Minister for Overseas Territories Lord Zac Goldsmith over the issue, urging that the Order in Council be lifted ahead of the implementation of the reforms.
But Governor Rankin assured residents yesterday that when Lord Goldsmith visited the BVI recently, he made it clear that the UK’s position was that more work needs to be done on the reforms before the Order in Council can be lifted.
“There was no suggestion from [Lord Goldsmith] of an intention to trigger the Order in Council at this point, which would lead to a partial suspension of the Constitution,” Governor Rankin said.