11 December 2012

Independence Commission announced for Turks & Caicos Islands

House Of Assembly Convenes 
Governor Announces Independence Commission

Written by fp Turks & Caicos staff
The Turks and Caicos Islands House of Assembly convened Nov. 28 for the first time since 2009 when the U.K. took over direct control of government under the governor.

Illustration by AVIS.TC 
Amid much emotion and fanfare, new government officials were joined by others in a church service on the capital island of Grand Turk before a parade and procession to House chambers for the opening ceremony and swearing in.

Elected members were joined by four members appointed by the governor. His Excellency the Gov. Ric Todd selected former Consultative Forum Chairwoman Lillian Misick and former forum member John Philips. He also appointed Ruth Blackman on the advice of the majority Progressive National Party and Clarence Selver on the advice of the opposition People’s Democratic Movement.

One of the first official actions was the selection of Robert Hall as House speaker in a 10-9 vote that fell along party lines. Hall is a former popular radio talk show personality and a former PNP member of the House.

The House also deferred consideration of an Integrity Commission report on recommended salaries for the new government representatives.

In his address to the House, the governor said one of the “greatest charges” of his government would be to take the country on a path from a U.K. overseas territory to an independent nation.

“We will convene a commission for independence whose mandate will be to define the process required to achieve this goal by the creation of specific developmental targets” Todd said. “The achievement of these objectives will enable this eventual transition when called for by our people to a free and fair referendum on the question.”

Both parties have said independence should be the goal of government but only after thoroughly examining and explaining the process and holding a referendum.