SUNtv News Reporter
The Turks and Caicos Islands will take to the world stage to highlight the United Kingdom's refusal to make important amendments to the country's Constitution, said Premier Hon. Dr. Rufus Ewing.
Addressing a public press conference on Monday September 7th, 2015 at the Gustavus Lightbourne Complex, Downtown, Providenciales, Premier Ewing said that for the United Kingdom Government to return the Turks and Caicos Islands to self-rule and "still not trust Government to make decisions for themselves or decisions on the behalf of the people because of mistrust is not democracy”.
He added “So for the United Kingdom Government to, at this juncture in our development, deny and have no interest whatsoever and outright and blankly state categorically ‘No I am not interested in changing anything in that Constitution’ is indeed a slap in the face of democracy and a slap in the face of all of us Turks and Caicos Islanders who took time out of their busy schedule at work to come out to each and every one of those town hall meetings and to gave their contributions and let their voice be heard."
The Premier said, “This is not a PDM issue, this is not a PDA issue or PPP issue or whichever other party comes up after this. This is an issue of the Turks and Caicos Islands because I am here today, you here tomorrow and each and every one of us will feel it and our children will feel it when the time comes. So it is important that we stand together on this issue of constitutional advancement and constitutional reform. It is important that we do so. In the meantime, I have discussed with the Leader of the Opposition and we have agreed that we will sit and plot a way forward, because there are many ways to attack and challenge the status quo; but we have to begin with engagement and full engagement of the United Kingdom Government head on. And so we decided that we will establish a bi-partisan team and we will find ourselves in the first instance into the United Kingdom and sit with the members of Parliament and the FCO on this very issue of constitutional reform and show them why it is necessary for us to get what we the people ask for and demand."
According to the Premier: “We also will make sure that such efforts are taken not only to the United Kingdom Government but to the international arena, because the world have to understand that the United Nations convention is being violated by the United Kingdom Government. Because if I can’t ask for a single amendment to a constitution you categorically outright deny us those amendments when the people in the House of Assembly voted for them then you are indeed in violation of the UN convention.”
Ewing said it took time for members of the House of Assembly to debate those issues and come up with the unanimous decision on the changes.
He said the refusal by the UK to make Constitutional changes is "a slap in the face to all of our elected members of the House and a slap in the face of democracy in the Turks and Caicos Islands”.
The Premier added: “We must realize that power is the strangest thing and if you want to be a Government and if you are a Government elected, you must have the ability to do something. You must have the ability to make decisions for the people and we all understand what the trepidation may be, but that is not for you. You have to give us the power, you the people gave us the power when you elected each and every one of us into office and so we now need to take the power of you the people with us and we need you the people to rally behind us to demand the changes that you went to every Town Hall meeting for and asked for to be made in our Constitution”.
Turks and Caicos
TCI to petition United Nations on UK’s refusal
of constitutional changes
THE TURKS and Caicos Islands Government has signalled its intention to head to the United Nations Committee to air their concerns about the United Kingdom’s refusal to accept proposed constitutional changes.
Speaking at a town hall meeting on Monday, September 7, Premier Rufus Ewing called on members of the public and the Opposition to join the Government in its petition to the international body.
He told the gathering that the issue has to be taken to the international arena, as the world needs to understand that the United Nations Convention is being violated by the United Kingdom government.
"We have another opportunity to state our case to the United Nations Committee because we have had invitations and I will extend that invitation to the Opposition and members of the public who would like to petition the UN.
"We were invited to submit our petition about our concerns such as the refusal to give constitutional advancement and we as a Government will take up that opportunity and I am inviting the Opposition members and any other member who would like to attend that meeting to rally and petition the UN because that is the only way we are going to get true representation in this country,” Ewing urged.
He added that the TCI cannot look to the British for representation, as they are conflicted.
"We have to represent ourselves with the help of others other than the UK government.”
The Premier stated that there needs to be a constitution so that the Government can do what the people elected them to do and one which will ensure that they can govern properly.
He said it does not matter which party is in power, the same problems will exist.
"For the United Kingdom to have an election, let a Government come into power and still does not trust that Government to make decisions for themselves and on behalf of the people, is not democracy.
"So for the UK government to deny and have no interest whatsoever – outrightly, blanketly and categorically state that no I am not interested in changing anything in that constitution is indeed a slap in the face of democracy and all Turks and Caicos Islanders.”
He noted that everyone knows what the UK’s trepidation is, but that the country needs to rally together to demand the changes they made an effort and a sacrifice to put together.
"It is important that we stand together on the issue of constitutional advancement and constitutional reform, it is important that we do so.”
He added that he and the Leader of the Opposition have agreed to sit and plot a way forward, as well as put together a bipartisan team to go the UK to sit with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Members of Parliament to show them why it is necessary for the TCI to get what the people asked for.
"Every time I go to the Governor his usual question is - this is what they say, this is the constitution that you have if you don’t like it you can call a referendum.
"So I am telling you that we have to push and push at this door until that time comes and if you think that you have had enough and we think we have had enough then that is an option that we have to strongly consider and make a decision as Turks and Caicos Islanders,” the Premier advised.
He noted that it is not his decision alone, but the decision of all Turks and Caicos Islanders.