PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands (CMC) — Supporters of the Turks and Caicos Islanders United for Justice and Equality (TCIUJE) took to the streets here yesterday, demanding an end to British rule and a return to parliamentary democracy that was halted by London in 2009.
"We are on the streets today looking for an election date, we need a date for the elections," TCIUJE spokesman Devon Williams told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).
"By and large elections were four years ago and we are ready for another election. The British have been here for two years to do whatever they had to do, give us back an election so that we can put our own people back into office," he added.
London in August 2009 resumed daily administration of the affairs of this British Overseas Territory, disbanded the locally elected government and suspended the legislature after a Commission of Inquiry said it found widespread corruption under the administration of former premier Michael Misick.
The former premier, who resigned in March 2009, after the commission made its findings public, in a statement this week called on all Turks and Caicos Islanders, churches and political parties to put differences aside and "unite to fight the common enemy — the British.
"They (the British) have divided and conquered us. Let's show that we are wise and we will not be defeated. We are after all one people, there is strength in unity and if we unite we can peacefully defeat the British Empire as the great Indian statesman Mahatma Gandhi did. He once stated, referring to the British, "they cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them".
Misick accused London of staging what he termed a "modern-day coup" in the Turks and Caicos Islands while the rest of the world was not watching.
"All of the democratic institutions have been suspended. The governor (Gordon Wetherell) is now the executive, the legislative. He sits on a panel that decides who should be prosecuted. He appoints judges and so his position is no different than that of the strong man that made a recent coup in Niger or any other recent coup around the world.
"In fact, it's worst because even in Honduras after the coup they left the parliament in place," he said.
Both the People's Democratic Movement (PDM) and the Progressive National Party (PNP) have come out in support of the call for fresh elections and the end to British rule.
PDM leader Doug Parnell urged supporters to participate in the demonstration, while PNP leader Galmo Williams said it was time to "put aside differences".
"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 (former) 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," said Williams who succeeded Misick as premier.
(Meanwhile, PNP Leader Clayton Greene in a statement indicated that the Turks and Caicos Islands "was engaged in a struggle - it is the price of progress for our people.)"
The TCIUJE is accusing London of occupying the British Overseas territory "indefinitely" adding "that is just unacceptable.
"We need an election, we need democracy, it is a shame. In the Caribbean, in the western hemisphere, there is a small country existing without no democracy, no democratically elected government, no local government officials, all people are brought in to occupy this country. We are demanding an election," said the TCIUJE's spokesman.
He said the election date should be announced "right away" and accused the police of using force to try to break up the demonstrations.
"As we speak now the officers are in their riot gears are beginning to arrive and they are preparing to use force and physically take the streets back," he said.
*CARICOM reiterates its call for return to democratic governance for Turks & Caicos Islands*
COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE TWENTY-SECOND INTER-SESSIONAL MEETING OF THE CONFERENCE OF HEADS OF GOVERNMENT OF THE CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY (CARICOM)
25-26 FEBRUARY 2011, ST. GEORGE'S, GRENADA
TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS’ CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUE
TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS’ CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUE
"Heads of Government received an update on the situation in the Associate Member, Turks and Caicos Islands and reiterated their call for direct rule to be replaced by self rule and for a return to democratic and representative governance for the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands. "