March 8 Demonstration for return to elected government
By Gemma Handy
Turks & Caicos Weekly News
Strident PDM (Peoples Democratic Movement) calls for Islanders to cast aside political affiliation and join a unity march to restore self-government have received backing from the PNP (Peoples National Party). PDM leader Doug Parnell threw down the gauntlet last week to fellow citizens embittered by the return of direct British rule urging them to join a clamorous demonstration on March 8.
The open invitation has earned cross-party support with PNP leader Galmo Williams accepting the clarion call for action. Mr Williams declared it time to “put aside differences” in a statement released on Tuesday.
“The Progressive National Party supports the statement of the leader of the People’s Democratic Movement made at their press conference of last Thursday calling for a unity march of Turks and Caicos Islanders on March 8,” he said.
“As leader of the PNP I take this opportunity to publicly accept Mr Parnell’s open invitation to join and participate in this march for national unity on behalf of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
“Our prayer is that God would bless our country as we unite and put aside our differences for the betterment of all of our people,” he added. The former Premier has been a vehement opponent of direct UK rule from the outset.
The march will begin at 9am outside the Gustarvus Lightbourne Sports Complex in Providenciales.It will culminate at the court offices with ‘open mic’ speeches to give a voice to Islanders who feel muzzled since the axing of local elected representatives.
Mr Parnell told the Weekly News he was expecting a high turnout: “People want to march; at this juncture, this is what they are looking for. It is both timely and appropriate. People want to express themselves and this gives them the opportunity to do so.”The party leader said the aim was for TC Islanders to determine their own fate and not have one imposed on them.
The demonstration is being spearheaded by deputy leader Clarence Selver who said it was “time to stand up and speak up.”
“We are marching for unity, for the common wellbeing of the people of this country and for the reclamation of democracy and the return of accountability and responsibility in Government,” (he pointed out). Mr Selver said the event was also a formal display of opposition to escalating violent crime, a “lack of transparency” on issues of national importance, potential job cuts in the civil service and proposals to allow non-Belongers to vote.
PDM chiefs say that general elections – slated for summer 2011 – should be held imminently “to avoid further deterioration of the economy” and job losses. They dubbed the suspension of the constitution as “regressive” and said the TCI’s long-term stability and prosperity hinged on a locally elected Government.
The party is also demanding indigenous people be properly consulted during the forthcoming constitutional review.