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Relationship with UK was strained under previous regime - Premier

Relationship with UK was strained under previous regime - Premier

Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley has confessed that the BVI’s relationship with the United Kingdom was strained under the previous Andrew Fahie-led Virgin Islands Party (VIP) administration.

Despite his denials at one time, Fahie’s tenure was characterised by numerous public spats with former UK-appointed governor, Augustus Jaspert, much of which was brought into sharp focus during the months-long Commission of Inquiry (COI).

Speaking on the Territories Talk show yesterday, Dr Wheatley, who now heads up the VIP component of the government of National Unity, said the current relationship with the UK is good, particularly because he felt that the principles of democracy have been respected from the beginning of his tenure.

“The decision to not impose direct rule I think was a good start to this kind of new relationship—this newly invigorated relationship which of course under the previous regime had become very strained. Our relationship was not very good, and we kind of have a new start right now,” Premier Wheatley stated.

Dr Wheatley was at the time responding to the question of whether the UK and BVI now have a good relationship, and how this impacted the exercise of the ongoing COI-inspired reforms being executed by the government.

According to Dr Wheatley, the UK’s decision not to impose direct rule on the BVI following the COI report’s release was also reflective of this good start.

Taking ownership


But amidst concerns that the reform process is being imposed upon the BVI, Dr Wheatley said the territory is seeking to take ownership of the ongoing process and has accepted the need for reform.

“There are lots of areas that persons have complained about for many years, and we have taken it upon ourselves to use this opportunity and not let this crisis go to waste, but use this as an opportunity to seek to improve and become the model democracy that would make our people and the people in the region and the people in the world well proud,” Dr Wheatley said.

He added that while the COI has made recommendations for reform, his administration believes that the recommendations are broad enough that the people of the Virgin Islands can really have a voice in terms of how they are implemented.

“I believe that once the Governor and the United Kingdom respect the democratic rights of the people, respect the right of the people to have a voice, and not simply to impose things in a way that’s very one-sided, I believe that we’ll get along fine, we’ll get along well,” he stated.

And while conceding that there are bound to be some areas and some aspects that will cause some debate, discussion and tension, the Premier said he believed that it was in everyone’s best interest, including the United Kingdom, to ensure that constructive dialogue was continued and that issues were worked out as they arose.

“I believe if we do that — if we take that constructive approach instead of a heavy-handed or a one-sided approach — I think we’ll be just fine and thus far I think we’ve been okay,” he added.

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