Statement By The Governor of Turks & Caicos On Suspending Parts Of The TCI Constitution

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands – Following the decision in the Court of Appeal in London on 12th August and on the instruction of UK Ministers, I have today signed a proclamation, published in the Gazette, which brings into force the Order in Council suspending parts of the Turks and Caicos Islands constitution.

With immediate effect, Ministerial government and the House of Assembly are suspended meaning that Cabinet will no longer exist and the House of Assembly is dissolved and Members’ seats are vacated. The constitutional right to trial by jury is also suspended with immediate effect. In accordance with the Order in Council, this will be for a period of two years, subject to extension or abbreviation as necessary. During this period, the Governor will be responsible for the government of the Turks and Caicos Islands. To assist me, I am today appointing Mr Martin Stanley as Chief Executive to head the TCI public service. Shortly, I will also be appointing an Advisory Council and a Consultative Forum, both of which will be composed entirely of Belongers. I expect to announce the membership and rules of business of these two new bodies in the next few days.

After a long and frustrating period of waiting and delay, we can finally move ahead together towards a fresh start for the Islands. Our goal is to make a clean break from the mistakes of the past by establishing a durable path towards good governance, sound financial management and sustainable development. Our guiding principles will be those of transparency, accountability and responsibility. I believe that most people in the Turks and Caicos will join with me in welcoming these changes.

This is not a ‘British takeover’. Although, as I said in my statement of 2nd July, I have appointed experts to work in areas of concern highlighted in the Final Report of the Commission of Inquiry, the TCI public service will continue to exercise their normal functions. Public services will continue to be run by people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, as indeed they should be. But I hope we can now begin to run them better.

We have much to do and public expectations are high. We will need to prioritise. We need to stabilise TCI’s finances and help rebuild a more diverse and vigorous economy. People need to feel safe from crime and we need to clean up public life and start to develop a fairer, more open society. These objectives cannot be achieved overnight, and today’s change in the Constitution is only the start of the process. But I believe that, with the goodwill and support of the TCI public, we can make significant progress.

Although the Advisory Council and the Consultative Forum will not be elected bodies, they will I hope be representative of the views of the community and be responsive to public concerns. I want to ensure that the voice of the people continues to be heard. Through the technical assistance it is bringing to the Turks and Caicos the United Kingdom is already making a positive difference in many areas. The British Government and I are committed to working towards holding free and fair elections by July 2011. In the meantime we must all learn to foster a quality of public spirit, listen to all those who have the long-term interests of these Islands at heart, and safeguard the fundamental assets of the Territory for future generations.

Achieving a fresh start has to be a joint effort. As we embark on this challenging new period, I trust and look forward to your keen support.”

Gordon Wetherell

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