Dr Wheatley made that announcement Saturday night, April 30, as Premier Andrew Fahie remains detained in the United States on drug and money laundering charges.
The first-term legislator said congress of the VIP has already unanimously appointed him as chairman of the political organisation.
“Efforts are underway to seek the resignation of Honourable Andrew A. Fahie as Premier of the Virgin Islands as this would facilitate the smooth advancement of the process,” Dr Wheatley said via a live public broadcast Saturday night.
“I have never contemplated that the responsibility of the leadership of the Virgin Islands would come so soon under such circumstances. But I have been asked to lead and I rise to the call along with the rest of our team in the government who remain committed to the development of the Virgin Islands and the improvement of the quality of life for all our Virgin Islands and residents. These are demanding times for leadership and government but through the sum total of my education, training, and life experiences, I am confident in my preparedness to lead the Virgin Islands at this time along with my colleagues,” he added.
Though Dr Wheatley has the support of the majority of the legislature to facilitate his ascension to the premiership, he stills needs to be appointed by the governor. However, this might not happen with the possibility of ‘UK direct rule’ still looming.
UK direct rule was one of the chief recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) report released to the public on Friday, April 29. If imposed, direct rule would see Governor John Rankin assuming the responsibilities of the elected government; something that was done in another British Overseas Territory, the Turks and Caicos Islands, after the conclusion of their COI back in 2009.
High-level meetings are now scheduled to be held with UK Minister for Overseas Territories, Amanda Milling on Monday, May 2 to discuss this and other COI recommendations.
In addition to Dr Wheatley, other local officials who will sit in those meetings include Opposition Leader and Chairman of National Democratic Party, Marlon Penn; Second District Representative from the Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM) political organisation, Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull; Third District Representative who is Chairman of Progressives United, Julian Fraser; Attorney General, Dawn Smith; and other officials under the recommendations of the COI.
“As I indicated on prior occasions, we will be communicating our position to the honourable [UK Overseas Territories Minister] Minister that direct rule is not an acceptable option to us … Direct rule would undermine all the progress that our people have made over generations,” said Dr Wheatley, who is currently serving as Acting Premier
“Direct rule would erode the right and the ability of the people of teh Virgin Islands to elect their legislators and the representatives who are their voices in the democratic process of their governance. If anything, any action taken must move the Virgin islands forward, not backward. We have the strong belief that the people of the Virgin islands are capable of working collaboratively with the United Kingdom to implement agreed recommendations of the COI report. We are preparing proposals toward this end,” added Dr Wheatley who received a standing round of applause from elected government members, all of were present behind him during the broadcast.
In the meantime, it is not clear whether Dr Wheatley and his government have met with the other political leaders who will be present at Monday’s meeting.
Their positions on the matter have not been stated publicly in the last few days.