Sunday, February 21, 2010

Turks and Caicos Islands Democracy Crisis

The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) is an area of the world that requires a large measure of review. The United Kingdom (UK) government took governance of this formerly autonomous country in August 2009. The UK is currently working to prove corruption by the former local government, as well as many of the people who live there.

Prior to the UK's take over of the government in TCI, the country was a democracy. Voting privileges were extended to Belongers who are citizens of the TCI. However, since the UKs installation of a UK governor in TCI, the UK has failed to involve the local population. The UK overturned the local constitution, abolished the local judiciary, elections and trials by jury, citing that the local population is also corrupted by political party loyalties.

Prior to UK's take over in August, the islands were enjoying a robust tourism economy, and state run health care was being instituted. The TCI had a government revenue surplus in the tens of millions prior to UK's interference in the local government. Many of the people in the TCI were quite content with the local government until quite suddenly a local political opposition party made serious allegations against the former Premier Michael Misick for wrongfully spending government revenue on a lease for private jet and other lavish perks. The UK made no warnings or offers of remediation to the former local government, though an UK diplomat had already been installed in the TCI.

The UK has now made clear that elections will not commence without its ultimate approval of the leader. This has raised fears that the UK has plans to have the new leader act as a proxy for the UK agenda. Furthermore, the UK promises a permanent presence in TCI and will allow non-citizen residents to vote by amending the constitution. The UK's plan to include non-citizen votes could be the UK's means to bolster voters favourable to the UK agenda, and it is unconstitutional.

The government structure is a dictatorship, as one man, a diplomat from the UK, is making all decisions solely without weighing any input from the people.

The TCI is suffering from a disconnection between the people and the government. The people feel defeated from losing their basic rights. It is important in a democracy to have the people's will weighed. We have received voluminous reports that people are frightened to speak out or come forward as there is intimidation by the local opposition group and the UK. UK has devised a divide and conquer strategy by instituting a policy of intimidation to dissenters. A special prosecutor from the UK has asserted an unfettered mandate to go after anyone she deems to be "corrupt". Opposition leaders favoured by the UK, have worked with the prosecutor to exploit their "special relationship" to intimidate and suppress dissent. This has created a police state in the TCI.

In an upcoming project, the FDA will try to improve the TCI through helping to unite the people's voice and weigh it against their diminished rights. The means for the people to have a say about its government is a fundamental tenet of democracy, through the principle of government of, by and for the people. Without that means, democracy is undermined. Many Belongers in the TCI need to be informed of their loss of democracy or need to have a nascent voice against the UK taking their rights.

Chris Burke,
FDA Project Manager of
the Turks and Caicos
Restoration of Democracy project

TCI Restoration of Democracy project

Article on British control of the TCI

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