Despite Hon Marlon A. Penn (R8) claiming yesterday, February 23, 2023, while appearing on the Morning Braff show on Tola Radio VI 100.5 FM with Floyd Burnett aka ‘Heritage’ that the negotiations between the National Democratic Party (NDP) and the Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM) were still ongoing, we found out today that this is not the case.
In fact, Chairman of PVIM Ronnie W. Skelton told reporters today, Friday, February 24, 2023, while at a press conference at Fish Bay on the main island of Tortola to announce a breakaway candidate, that the “merge will not happen.”
He also said if there are others who share PVIM’s values and wish to join the party they are welcome. Mr Skelton also announced that he will be running At-Large and that the people called him to run.
It is our newsroom’s understanding that the NDP is struggling to secure candidates to run and some who had earlier pledged to run with the group have since changed their minds and are now with the PVIM or have backed out.
Is Hon Penn NDP Chairman?
Hon Penn announced over the New Year holidays that he was the Chairman of the NDP; however, there was no internal vote. The serving Minister for Health with the Unity Government, Hon Penn, was the Deputy Chair under former Chairman Myron V. Walwyn.
Our news centre was the first to accurately report on January 18, 2023, that there were discussions to attempt to merge the two groups- NDP and PVIM.
It is believed that Mr Penn and his NDP have about 7 to 8 candidates so far.
What is clear is that the same four political parties that contested the 2019 general elections will be back, including the Virgin Islands
Party (VIP) headed by Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the Hon Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) and the Progressives United, an upstart party formed in 2018 and headed by Opposition Leader Hon Julian Fraser (R3).
Progressive Virgin Islands Movement
(PVIM) announced seven of its ratified candidates at a press conference
today, February 24, 2023. From front left: Hon Melvin M. Turnbull (R2),
Ronnie W. Skelton and Hon Shereen D. Flax-Charles (AL). From back left:
Paul A. Hewlett, Stacey R. Mather, Shaina M. Smith-Archer and Sylvia
NDP 1 & NDP 2
The PVIM is a breakaway wing from the NDP, after Mr Skelton was fired by former NDP Chairman and Premier Dr D. Orlando Smith in 2018.
Mr Skelton had contested the Chairmanship of the NDP on the retirement of Dr Smith but was beaten by Mr Walwyn. He then formed his own political party, PVIM, as many former NDP voters, supporters and members said they could not support Walwyn.
However, both Walwyn as Chairman of the NDP and Skelton as Chairman of the PVIM lost in the 2019 elections, while vying for At Large seats.