CARICOM condemns constitutional disruption in Turks and Caicos

-urges governing, opposition parties   to come together in national interest
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) said yesterday that its  members who strongly uphold the exercise of democracy do not “believe that good governance, the rule of law and representative democracy can be ensured or strengthened by the constitution suspension in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) and a return to direct rule by the colonial power through its governor.”

In a statement yesterday expressing growing concern over recent political and constitutional developments in the TCI, a British Overseas Territory and Associate Member of the Community, CARICOM noted that on  March 16, 2009 the Interim Report of the Turks and Caicos Commission of Inquiry into possible corruption or other dishonesty in relation to past and present elected members of the Legislature in recent years was made public.

It had been released to the Governor of the TCI on February 28, 2009 and an Order in Council was subsequently made on March 18, 2009 and will be laid before the British Parliament today.

The Order will continue in force for a period of two years from the date of its commencement unless it is revoked earlier, or continued in force, by a further Order in Council, the statement from the CARICOM Secretariat at Turkeyen said.

The statement asserted that, “Indeed, these provisions threaten the democratic process in the TCI by terminating the existence of the Cabinet and dissolving the elected Legislature, in effect thwarting the will of the people of the TCI. Furthermore, the power, duty or function of the Cabinet and the House of Assembly would now be completely exercised or performed by the Governor in his or her discretion without any effective checks and balances or general oversight by the TCI people.”

On the contrary, CARICOM declared, suspending the functioning of the democratic, representative and constitutional institutions of the TCI can only weaken the efforts to ensure good governance in the TCI, the ultimate objective of the Commission of Inquiry.
Meanwhile, the Caribbean Community said it was fully aware of the scathing nature of the Interim Report with regard to the present governance in the TCI and conscious of the seriousness of the situation.

However, CARICOM  believes that the time between the Order in Council being laid in the British Parliament and the publication of the final report of the Commission of Inquiry provides a window of opportunity for the governing and opposition parties to come together in the national interest as well as for deeper reflection by all involved in order to come up with a solution that will minimize constitutional disruption.

CARICOM also contended that this could be done even while providing some immediate safeguards against the abuses related in the Interim Report.

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