#Providenciales, December 13, 2018 – Turks and Caicos – The no-show by the Opposition PNP has caused another delay in constitutional reform talks between the Turks and Caicos and the United Kingdom as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office closed the curtain on the PDM’s solo performance.
Reading from one of several letters received by the Turks and Caicos Islands Government from the FCO between 2015 and 2018, Premier Sharlene Robinson gave the nation the grim news in the words of Foreign Office Minister Lord Tariq Ahmad: “I am also concerned that the new recommendations do not have cross party agreement. I have seen that the Leader of the Opposition issued a press statement distancing himself and his party from this exercise. If that is the case then as you will be aware, the UK Government cannot consider these proposals until there is cross-party agreement. I would be grateful if you could confirm this point when we meet for our bi-lateral after the Joint Ministerial Council on 6 December.”
The letter was issued to Premier Robinson and TCI Governor, His Excellency Dr. John Freeman.
The Progressive National Party never joined the PDM for that annual bi-lateral meeting in London last week; therefore the cross-party support required by the UK Government for the suggestions to be considered stalled discussions and new talks have been deferred.
The Premier, during the question and answer period of the press conference held at her office in Providenciales on Tuesday afternoon, explained that this was the first time the Turks and had seen a lack of bi-partisan support on the matter of constitutional reform in modern times.
Premier Sharlene Robinson charged the former PNP Administration with also misleading the public on the 2015 recommendations for constitutional change.
“This made the actions of the PNP abundantly clear. Whilst we know that their actions are political and meant to be stifling, they knew full well that these proposals were not even under consideration and had in fact, misled the entire country. HMG has been sure to cast blame back on us as a people and have refused to progress the other proposals submitted because the PNP had distanced themselves from the discussions. The PNP’s actions have once again harmed constitutional efforts …” said Premier Robinson, who was joined by Deputy Premier Sean Astwood.
The PDM was blind-sided by the FCO’s information that the 2015 recommendations from the Constitutional Commission were not eligible for reconsideration and by a proposal for change to the Crown Land Ordinance, submitted in 2015 by the Rufus Ewing-led administration.
“We remain disappointed that the PNP would play games, as it were, with this matter. Their word cannot be trust and we are again disappointed to likewise report to this country that they had also received response on the crown Land submission of 2015 and these were likewise rejected, we were advised by the UK Government under similar circumstances.”
The Premier reported, in the debriefing with media, that she reiterated the constitutional recommendations are from the People of the Turks and Caicos and bear reconsideration. It was also conveyed by Madame Premier that work by her administration to return as soon as possible to the negotiating table on the 2011 Constitution and the Crown Land Ordinance begins immediately.
“Having now fallen into post Brexit final quarter we expect a delay, but will finalise our submissions this month and engage again early next year. We will of course remind the people of their submissions before submitting. And we have received a commitment from the Minister in the UK to receive these proposals. We believe that the people have spoken and their voices must be respected.”
Premier Robinson said this is no time to play politics and characterised the UK’s willingness to field submissions from all of their overseas territories as an ‘opportunity’ not to be missed.
The Opposition PNP has reported that by end of January it will have a newly elected leader and will therefore resume bi-partisan participation on constitutional reforms.