Activists in the British Virgin Islands protest against the UK’s direct government plan
Activists in the British Virgin Islands protested on Monday against a proposal to place the British Overseas Territory under UK control, days after the BVI prime minister was jailed in Miami on charges of conspiracy to drug traffic.
A report released Friday and commissioned by Queen Elizabeth’s representative in the Territory said the governance issues are so severe that the legislature should be suspended and the Territory effectively governed from London. The report came just a day after BVI Premier Andrew Fahie and the territory’s Ports Director were jailed following a sting by the Drug Enforcement Administration in a major embarrassment for the UK.
Hundreds of people gathered outside Governor John Rankin’s office in the capital Road Town on the island of Tortola on Monday, chanting slogans and holding signs reading “No British rule”. “Our message to the UK government and to the world: there will be no direct government in this country,” said Luce Hodge-Smith, who has previously held government positions and whose Facebook page says she is retired.
The rally coincided with a visit by Amanda Milling, a British MP who is also Minister of State for Asia and the Middle East, to discuss the report issued by the commission of inquiry. His report found millions of dollars of public funds being spent each year by politicians and government departments without proper procedure, as well as gross dishonesty over sales of public assets and widespread abuse of appointments.
Fahie’s administration had ignored principles of good governance, witnesses had been afraid to come forward and that “residents of the BVI have been poorly served in recent years”, concluded the report, which is not linked to the report. arrest of Fahie. The British Virgin Islands were conquered by Britain in the 1600s and for centuries were the site of sugar plantations operated by slaves brought by force from Africa.
The territory of around 30,000 people gained autonomy from the UK in 1967 through its first elections and the creation of its first self-government.
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