07 November 2011

Former Turks & Caicos Governing Party, ousted by the British in 2009, adopts independence platform


Resolution of the General Council of the Progressive National Party October 24, 2011

WHEREAS the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands have passed from hand to hand among European Powers finally resting with the United Kingdom in 1799.

AND WHEREAS since becoming a United Kingdom Colony in 1799, the Turks and Caicos Islands have been passed by the United Kingdom among its other colonies, most notably Jamaica and the Bahamas.

AND WHEREAS the peoples of the Turks and Caicos Islands were for many years following the failure of the Loyalist Plantations and the closure of the Salt Industry abandoned by the Government of the United Kingdom.

AND WHEREAS the peoples of the Turks and Caicos Islands notwithstanding this abandonment and abdication by the United Kingdom Government of its responsibility have made major strides and have brought significant prosperity and social justice to the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands and have put in place most of the major institutions needed in an independent and well functioning modern democracy.

AND WHEREAS the facts are that in recent times the United Kingdom has:

1. Taken away our Constitution, suspending our most basic laws and altering fundamentally the forms of our Government.

2. Trampled upon our democracy by suspending our duly elected Government and have declared themselves vested with power to govern over us without our consent.

3. Suspended our duly elected Legislature and have also declared themselves, without our consent, vested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

4. Refused and continues to refuse to allow us to again elect our own Government.

5. Stood up and called together in the place of a democratically elected government a mock legislature and a mock executive, none of which have the consent of the people over whom they preside and both void of any power to deliver for the progress of our people.

6. Endeavored to deprive the people of these Islands of their right to Trial by a Jury of their peers.

7. Established a multitude of new offices, and have sent to our Islands swarms of their own people to fill these offices and to harass our people and take away their chances to earn a livelihood, while at the same time they have cut the salaries, emoluments and pensions of our people.

8. Imposed Taxation upon us without our consent and without any meaningful chance of representation from our people.

9. Curtailed the inward investments into our Islands thereby ruining the buoyant economy which we once enjoyed.

10. Settled a new constitution for our Islands which erodes our human rights as a people and erodes the powers of our duly elected government.

11. Failed to consult with the people of these Islands in a meaningful and genuine way regarding the establishment of a new constitution.

12. Failed to take due account of the political aspirations of our people and have generally abdicated its responsibilities under Article 73 of the United Nations Charter to prepare these Islands for self-determination.

AND WHEREAS at every stage of these oppressions, the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms, and our repeated Petitions have only been answered by repeated injury.

BE IT RESOLVED THAT WE, THE PROGRESSIVE NATIONAL PARTY, relying on the Providence of God and accepting as we do that the relationship between these Turks and Caicos Islands and the United Kingdom is not in the best interest of the people of these Islands, and accepting further that the time has come that we as a people chart our own future towards progress and prosperity, hereby undertake to actively seek and pursue the independence of these Turks and Caicos Islands from the Government of the United Kingdom.

AND WE FURTHER RESOLVE AND DECLARE that the independence of these Turks and Caicos Islands from the United Kingdom is an objective of our Progressive National Party and we do require same to be a prominent plank in our Party's platform and we undertake the following:

1) As a party to engage upon a programme of educating the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, particularly our youth to the responsibilities of citizenship in an independent county and to the boundless possibilities of an independent Turks and Caicos Islands;

2) As a government to secure as soon as practicable a referendum to signify the settled will of our people on the question of independence.

ADOPTED BY the National General Council of the Progressive National Party this 24th day of October, 2011.

PNP vows to seek independence

Written by Richard Green
FP Turks & Caicos Islands 

The Progressive National Party’s National General Council has passed a resolution vowing that — if it wins power in the next elections — the party will seek a national referendum for independence of the Turks and Caicos Islands from the U.K.

The resolution that was passed Oct. 24 says the PNP will launch a programme to education the public on the responsibilities of citizenship in an independent country and to hold a national referendum on independence.

The call for independence is the first official move by a political party to call for independence in many years. If the PNP takes power and holds an independence referendum, it would be the first national referendum in TCI history.

“As the leader of the Progressive National Party, I say to you all that the question can no longer be whether there will be or whether there should be independence,” said PNP Leader Clayton Greene. “The question must now be when. Let us together and with confidence embrace our future.”

Talk of independence has been growing slowly since the U.K. suspended parts of the TCI Constitution and the elected government in 2009 amid allegations of government corruption and with government finances in peril.

Since the U.K.’s original date in 2011 for returning local government control was postponed — now expected near the end of 2012 — local support for the U.K. takeover has waned while the idea of independence is gaining supporters.

The British have said they would increase their presence in the TCI and would not allow a repeat of problems with corruption and government finances. However, the U.K. is not opposed to independence, as Foreign Minister Henry Bellingham reiterated in September during a speech in Bermuda:

“Let me be quite clear on the question of independence. Successive British governments have said that it is for the territories themselves to decide whether they wish to remain connected to the United Kingdom but that any decision to cut that link should be on the basis of the clearly expressed wish of the majority of the people of the territory in question. This government also supports that approach.”

In addition to the TCI, the nearby countries that are still Overseas Territories include Anguilla, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and Montserrat.

The most recent calls for independence have come in Bermuda and Anguilla, but they haven’t gained much traction. Recent polls in Bermuda show that 73 percent of its people are against independence.

A 2005 discussion paper prepared for the Bermuda Independence Commission (BIC) concluded that “independence is a meticulous, time-consuming and serious business. A business to be undertaken by a serious, meticulous, intelligent, mature and patient population.”

If the TCI followed an independence plan like the one envisioned by Bermuda, it would have to draft a new Constitution that not only defined powers and rights, but what kind of new government would rule:

Constitutional monarchy such as the Bahamas that still has connections to the U.K. as a member of the Commonwealth

Executive presidential republic like Guyana and the U.S.

Non-executive presidential republic like Trinidad and Tobago

Those decisions would be reached in an Independence Conference that would include members of both parties and the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which would work out the complicated legal mechanics of independence.

Upon independence, the TCI government would be responsible for everything, including matters reserved under the present Constitution for the U.K., including international affairs, defence, internal security and police.

The Cayman Islands and Montserrat currently appear content with their territory status, the latter because of much needed U.K. financial support since the 1995 eruption of the Soufrière Hills Volcano that forced the evacuation of two-thirds of the island’s 12,000 residents.The following Caribbean countries have gained independence from the U.K. but remain Commonwealth nations:

Jamaica, 1962
Barbados, 1966
Bahamas, 1973
Dominica, 1978
Saint Lucia, 1979
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, 1979
Antigua and Barbuda, 1981
Saint Kitts and Nevis, 1983

Former British territories that are independent but not members of the Commonwealth are Trinidad and Tobago (1962) and Guyana (1966).

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